A David Villa hat-trick earned Valencia CF an astonishing 4-4 draw with Werder Bremen that ensured them a UEFA Europa League quarter-final place courtesy of the away-goals rule.
The two sides settled for a sober 1-1 draw in last week's first leg in Spain, but they produced a stunning return at the Weserstadion. Villa signalled his return from a shoulder problem with a goal in the third minute and Juan Mata struck in the 15th before substitute Hugo Almeida pulled one back for the hosts.
Villa's second on the stroke of half-time looked decisive, only for Bremen captain Torsten Frings to convert a 57th-minute penalty and Marko Marin to hit their third in a stirring comeback. Villa, however, then raced away to fire Valencia's fourth and put his side into Friday's draw, despite Claudio Pizarro's 84th-minute equaliser.
Valencia made light of several absentees through injury and suspension as they took the game to Bremen from the start. David Silva provided assists for all three of their first-half strikes, starting with a pass for Villa following Naldo's weak header. The striker made no mistake with his angled shot past Tim Wiese and neither did Mata after Silva's ball over the top of the Bremen defence. Almeida tapped home Pizarro's cross just four minutes after coming on but there was more to come from Villa with a low shot through the crowd after Silva had brilliantly rescued the ball and provided the perfect pass.
Coming out 3-1 down for the second half, Bremen's task was soon made easier when Valencia substitute Jordi Alba brought down Marin. Frings, who also scored from the spot in the first leg, repeated the feat and five minutes later Marin followed up with a vicious shot from inside the box to make it all square on the night. Villa looked to have ended the drama with his third and Valencia's fourth, but Pizarro's header brought more drama as the visitors held on.