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Even after seventeen years as a professional at the highest level it was easy for Robert Pirès to admit he had rarely seen or played in a stranger or more eventful match than Matchday 4 at Villarreal CF.
The Yellow Submarine rose to the surface, after some weeks submerged in their worst form in recent years, to dismantle S.S. Lazio 4-1 thanks to two goals and an assist from the French maestro. Now Villarreal face a crucial Liga encounter with Sevilla FC this weekend having scored nine times in their last two matches and with two Matchdays remaining in the UEFA Europa League they are suddenly well placed to qualify for the knockout round.
Even though he, Cani and Giuseppe Rossi grabbed the goals and the glory Pirès did not want the contribution of goalkeeper Diego López, who was substituted in the second half with a thigh injury, to be overlooked. "He saved us from a very complicated situation with that one-on-one stop against Tommaso Rocchi because if you go 1-0 down at home on a night like this so very early then it's a problem," confirmed the 36-year-old. "Then take into account that we scored very quickly thereafter and almost directly after that there was the red card [Roberto Baronio] so you can see what an impact Diego's save had."
Not long afterwards Pirès provided Cani with his chance to score and he then clipped home a penalty – but only just. "Yes, I know the keeper not only got a hand to the penalty he almost saved it. But everyone knows you can miss or score a penalty no matter who you are. This time I not only had a nice bit of luck that it went in, I'm also on a good run of scoring goals." Indeed his five goals in five league, cup and UEFA Europa League matches have been a major ingredient in Villarreal's sudden improvement in form.
"Everyone knows we have a lot of good players in the squad, a great deal of talent. No matter what results you have you don't lose that quality. We started really badly in the league and in the Europa league too, but today we showed we have lifted our heads, we tried lots of creative things, created lots of chances, scored plenty of goals that's the important thing now. We've won three points, but there are two games left, one here one away and if we want to go through the group then we just have win each of them. Given how we are playing, given our confidence then yes I think we can and yes I think we will qualify."
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