Grafite may have squandered an early chance against Villarreal CF but the VfL Wolfsburg striker's confidence was barely dented for the rest of an impressive display in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie.
A 2-2 draw at El Madrigal could even have been a potentially definitive victory for the German titleholders had it not been for their Brazilian marksman's early aberration. Peter Pekarík's cross located Grafite almost on the goal line but he somehow scooped over. "I've been in a run of games where there has been a flow of chances and when I missed that one I did think it might mean this was going to be a difficult night for me," he told UEFA.com.
"So I was particularly happy when I scored those two goals later on. This was a great result against a good team. The tie is nicely balanced so I hope we can put this good work to our advantage when we play the second leg in Germany and make sure we qualify."
Grafite not only scored a superb equaliser after Marcos Senna's wonderful free-kick opened the scoring, he stayed calm to convert a penalty while Diego López hopped around the goal line in an attempt to distract him. "The first goal was the one I liked because I had been thinking about dribbling towards goal a little but looked up and saw there was space to shoot past the defender. Thankfully it turned out to be a lovely goal."
It was, however, not a night that solely belonged to Grafite. With 13 minutes left, Robert Pirès made way for Villarreal's young striker Marco Ruben. Before he could have an impact, Iván Marcano hauled down Grafite, received a red card and saw his side fall behind from the resultant spot kick. Ruben then came to the fore and fired in a wonderful late leveller to reignite the tie.
"It's a slightly bittersweet feeling because we've drawn at home but perhaps slightly sweeter because we salvaged a draw in the last minutes instead of losing at home," he told UEFA.com. "The long ball came to me sweetly and it was special to score my first goal for Villarreal in that manner. I still think we've given ourselves a chance of going through. Just look at the pattern of this game. We played well, we are very positive and confident and even when their late penalty looked like it had won them the game we still fought back."
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