A stunning early goal from Juan Mata and two extra-time strikes from Pablo Hernández put Valencia CF through to meet Werder Bremen and eliminated a heroic Club Brugge KV, who boasted the man of the match in goalkeeper Stijn Stijnen.
The fantastic duel between David Villa and the outstanding Belgian custodian turned in the 98th minute. Having just parried inspirationally from Hernández, Stijnen was beaten when the winger nutmegged Antolin Alcaraz and buried a shot into the corner of the net. Then, with three minutes left, Hernández received possession from Joaquín, danced round Stijnen and put the result beyond doubt.
The absence of three injured defenders forced Unai Emery to improvise with different tactical systems but, starting with three at the back, Valencia struck inside the first minute. Miguel crossed from wide left, Ryan Donk deflected and Mata thumped home. The tie was level and the goal sparked multiple Valencia chances plus wonderful defending from Carl Hoefkens, Stijnen and Vadis Odjidja. The highlights included Villa's two efforts on goal in the first half an hour and Odjidja's tremendous penalty-spot block on the Spain striker four minutes later.
Deep into extra time Valencia led the goal attempts by 24-3, but that only helped Stijnen shine. Villa was intent on defeating Brugge single-handedly if he had to, but the 28-year-old goalkeeper was impresively stubborn. Seven minutes after the break, Villa danced past three defenders and hit the target only to watch as Stijnen saved with his feet. Then came the pièce de resistance. Mata's 66th-minute shot was rendered even more difficult by a fierce deflection, however Stijnen not only blocked that but bounced up to get his body in the way of Hernández's volley from the rebound.
In the dying moments of normal time César Sánchez matched Stijnen with a diving save from Wesley Sonck's goal-bound drive, setting up the extra-time heroics from his colleagues further up the field.
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