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Villarreal 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb (agg: 3-1): Villarreal ease through to semi-finals

Paco Alcácer and Gerard Moreno fired dominant Villarreal through to the last four.

Highlights: Villarreal 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb (2 mins)
Highlights: Villarreal 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb (2 mins)

Paco Alcácer and Gerard Moreno struck in the first half as Villarreal sealed their place in the semi-finals despite Mislav Oršić's late reply for Dinamo.

Villarreal vs Dinamo: as it happened, reaction


Match in brief

Gerard Moreno celebrates his goal for Villarreal
Gerard Moreno celebrates his goal for VillarrealGetty Images

After having the better of the opening exchanges and hitting the post via Samuel Chukwueze's close-range strike, Villarreal opened the scoring through Paco Alcácer's tap-in before Gerard Moreno expertly curled in a second. Mislav Oršić completed a fine team move to give Dinamo a glimmer of late hope, although Villarreal's dominance was underlined by Chukwueze rattling the woodwork again as the hosts went through 3-1 on aggregate.

Graham Hunter, Villarreal reporter

When Villarreal appointed Unai Emery as their manager last July, it was at the expense of a much loved ex-player Javi Calleja, who had done a smashing job at the helm. What was made immediately clear was that Emery's past as a triple winner of the UEFA Europa League was a key factor. Tonight – in fact, their entire unbeaten season in Europa League matches, with 28 goals in their favour – is evidence of how shrewd that choice was. Villarreal cruise on – bring on Arsenal.

Elvir Islamović, Dinamo reporter

Emery reaction as Villarreal reach last four
Emery reaction as Villarreal reach last four

Dinamo knew they would not have many chances in Spain, but they were hoping they could be clinical enough to score. They managed that once, but it was not enough after Villarreal did the damage at the end of the first half to make it almost impossible for the visitors. The Croatian side can look back on their UEFA Europa League campaign with pride, though. They showed great quality, huge motivation and plenty of team spirit – even as they bowed out.

Reaction

Unai Emery, Villarreal coach: "Everyone here recalls that we had a semi-final against Arsenal in the Champions League and three more in the Europa League. We've achieved this rematch by taking things a match at a time, with the belief that we're building something beautiful."

Paco Alcácer, Villarreal forward: "The least of our worries is who the semi-final is against. We are on a journey which is praiseworthy already – I can tell you we all work very hard indeed for it be easier for nights like this to happen. None of us will waste time dreaming of a final or the future: it's about enjoying the moment we are in right now."

Fernando Roig, Villarreal president: "At 2-1 up, when Dinamo had a free-kick on the edge of our penalty area, I was a little nervous. But now we have Arsenal in the semi-finals and let's see if we can't erase the memory of Román Riquelme missing that penalty against them in the 2006 Champions League semi-final."

Arijan Ademi, Dinamo Zagreb captain: "Congratulations to Villarreal – they deserved this victory and were the better team. We gave our best, did a good job and need to keep our heads up."

Dominik Livaković, Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper: "We were not strangers in this phase of the Europa League. We did a good job, have progressed this season and can be satisfied. We had nothing to lose in the second half: we scored once and had hoped we could score another to make the last few minutes interesting. We did our best and gave all of our effort."

Mislav Oršić, Dinamo Zagreb winger: "This is the end of our European trip and we are all a bit sad about it, but we did a really good job. We didn't start this match as we wanted and after we conceded two goals it was really difficult. We scored and were hoping to get back in the game, but we didn't."

Villarreal will face Arsenal in the semi-finals
Villarreal will face Arsenal in the semi-finalsGetty Images

Key stats

  • Villarreal are unbeaten in their last 21 European matches against non-Spanish opposition and have not lost any of their 11 matches in the Europa League this season (W10 D1).
  • Gerard Moreno has scored 15 of Villarreal’s last 25 goals and 17 times in his last 17 appearances for The Yellow Submarine.
  • Villarreal have scored twice or more in 87 European matches (including qualifying and the UEFA Intertoto Cup) – they have only lost one of those games (2-3 vs Zürich in November 2014).
  • Mislav Oršić has scored six goals in his last seven games for Dinamo Zagreb, all of which have come after the 60th minute.

Line-ups

Highlights: Dinamo Zagreb 0-1 Villarreal (2 mins)
Highlights: Dinamo Zagreb 0-1 Villarreal (2 mins)

Villarreal: Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Pau Torres, Pedraza (Moreno 90); Trigueros (Moi Gómez 62), Capoue, Parejo (Coquelin 84); Gerard Moreno, Alcácer (Álex Baena 90), Chukwueze (Peña 90)

Dinamo: Livaković, Ristovski (Stojanović (62), Lauritsen, Théophile-Catherine (Perić 82), Gvardiol; Jakić, Ademi (J. Mišić 82); Ivanušec (Atiemwen 76), Majer (Franjić 62), Oršić; Petković.

What's next

Villarreal now face Arsenal in the semi-finals, with the first leg on 29 April and the return a week later. Before then, the Yellow Submarine resume their push for the Liga's European spots, with games against Levante (18/04), Alavés (21/04) and Barcelona (25/04).