Valencia CF cruised into an all-Spanish semi-final against Club Atlético de Madrid after producing a wonderful display to defeat AZ Alkmaar 4-0 on the night, 5-2 on aggregate.
Beaten 2-1 in the Netherlands last week, Valencia's fine performance this time around was epitomised by the vibrant Jordi Alba, who scored one and assisted Pablo Hernández for another after two first-half strikes from Adil Rami.
The game was a masterclass from Valencia coach Unai Emery, who moved Alba from full-back to a position which varied between left wing and inside left. From start to finish he found space, overlapped at will and often cut into positions around striker Roberto Soldado. At times Soldado even dropped deep so Alba could operate as a false No9, in the style of Lionel Messi.
Valencia had already given notice that they would exploit slack marking when Tino Costa volleyed wide following an early corner. Soldado then forced a good save from Esteban but by the 15th minute the home side were in front. Sofiane Feghouli had time and space to cross from the right and Rami was more determined to meet it than Esteban to clear it.
The lead doubled within two minutes as, once more, Tino Costa found splendid isolation and crossed left-footed from right midfield. Soldado flicked on with his head and Rami prodded in at the far post.
Adam Maher showed with his 24th-minute shot, pawed away by Diego Alves, that AZ were not done, but the visitors simply could not deal with Alba. His cross before the break was superbly placed for Jonas but the Brazilian headed narrowly wide. Visiting right-back Dirk Marcellis suffered more than most at Alba's hands but twice he saved his team, blocking efforts from Soldado and Alba before the crucial third arrived.
When it did, the scorer seemed inevitable. Soldado ran wide right, centred with pace and direction and yet another Alba sprint allowed him to bundle the ball in. The night was capped when the star of the show somehow reached a pass from Soldado and crossed for Hernández to finish.
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