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Joan Capdevila's late equaliser ensured Villarreal CF avoided defeat in their first UEFA Cup Group C game at home to ACF Fiorentina.
Former Club Atlético de Madrid striker Christian Vieri scored on his return to Spain just after half-time, but with two minutes left Capdevila headed in Giuseppe Rossi's free-kick. It leaves this pair dead level with the other teams in action in the group tonight, AEK Athens FC and IF Elfsborg, who also drew 1-1.
Both of these sides have begun their domestic season well but it was the team third in Serie A who began the game in the more lively fashion. Within ten minutes Diego López had been forced to save superbly from both Adrian Mutu and Fabio Liverani while Vieri volleyed wide. Villarreal, second in the Primera División, responded and Jon Dahl Tomasson's far-post header made Fiorentina goalkeeper Sébastien Frey punch away.
The game settled down until half-time but three minutes into the second period the visitors were ahead. Mutu laid the ball across the edge of the area and Vieri tucked his shot underneath López. Mutu then thought he had made it 2-0 after a cross-shot went in at the far post, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Villarreal now searched for an equaliser and Ángel López went close with a dipping volley before Rossi saw his curling free-kick avoid everybody in the area and drift just wide of the far post. But Rossi had greater luck with his dead-ball service as time ran out, his cross from the right perfect for Capdevila to send a glancing header into the corner of the net.
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