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Villarreal CF completed a wonderful week for Spain in Europe as they cruised to a stylish 5-1 victory against FC Twente that leaves them on the verge of the UEFA Europa League semi-finals.
First-half goals from Carlos Marchena, Borja Valero and Nilmar set the Yellow Submarine on their way to a win that left Michel Preud'homme's side tired, bewildered and well beaten. Exquisite efforts from Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar again salted their wounds further, Marc Janko's late header surely providing mere consolation.
It meant for the third time in three days Spanish sides prevailed by four-goal margins, though unlike Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona, Villarreal had to work their opponents out before cutting loose. For about 20 minutes the Dutch league leaders' fluidity, pace and power posed Juan Carlos Garrido's men a real test.
Gradually, Marchena urged his team-mates not to allow themselves to be hemmed in; Santi Cazorla and Mario Gaspar found some width and that, effectively, was that.
The breakthrough came from sloppy marking at a 23rd-minute corner, as José Catalá glanced Valero's set piece perfectly for Marchena to head in. Cazorla was buzzing around the Twente midfield when out of possession, making smart runs and passes when in it. None were cleverer than his through ball to release Valero two minutes from the break.
The distinctive No20 converted, and there was still time for Nilmar to capitalise on Peter Wisgerhof's weak defensive header to make it 3-0. Valencia CF coach Unai Emery was an attentive spectator at El Madrigal ahead of Villarreal's vital meeting with their Liga neighbours this weekend: he must have taken copious notes.
As Twente became ragged, Villarreal rounded off their own edges. On 55 minutes Bruno Soriano released Rossi and, with two defenders backing off, the Italy striker opened his body as if to pass to Nilmar before curling a fantastic shot beyond Nikolay Mihaylov.
Rossi did feed his partner with ten minutes left and Nilmar lashed in his second before picking up a booking that means he will miss the second leg along with Cazorla. It is unlikely to matter, despite Janko's late effort.
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