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Villarreal complete Roma conquest

AS Roma 2-1 Villarreal CF (agg: 2-3) Sonny Anderson's second-half goal ends the Italian side's fightback.

By Tom Kington at the Stadio Olimpico

Villarreal CF ensured their first UEFA Cup campaign continued into the quarter-final stage by holding firm in the face of strong AS Roma presssure and scoring a crucial second-half goal.

Mountain to climb
The Italian side had a mountain to climb after losing 2-0 in the first leg but were hopeful after drawing level on aggregate. However, Brazilian striker Sonny Anderson popped up in the second half to score his fourth goal in as many cup ties and earn the sole surviving UEFA Intertoto Cup winners a two-legged meeting with Celtic FC.

Curving strike
Needing to score early, Roma made the perfect start, halving the deficit in the tenth minute. Brazilian midfield player Emerson took a short pass from a free-kick, rounded a defender and placed a long-range, curling beauty of a shot to the right of the sprawling Villarreal keeper José Reina.

Tactical dilemma
Roma pushed on for the second goal with captain Francesco Totti frequently dropping deep to launch defence-splitting balls to Antonio Cassano, playing almost in the role of lone striker. But coach Fabio Capello, who had been expected to play a third striker, saw his tactics foundering as a tight Villarreal defence soaked up the pressure, with Cassano failing to find his goalscoring touch.

Speed and aggression
The Roma midfield did however provide the speed and aggression Capello had asked for, with Emerson and Oliver Dacourt preventing Villarreal's Juan Riquelme from linking with the Spanish strikers before frequently rampaging forward. But two chances summed up Roma's half. In the 33rd minute Emerson split the Villarreal defence with a perfect through-ball, only for the onrushing and unspotted Vincent Candela to poke his shot just wide, then five minutes later Totti broke forward but Cassano, darting ahead, could not find space to run into and take his pass.

Visitors encouraged
The home side's drive began to wane as the half-time whistle drew near, with Mancini's final surge and low cross finding no takers and, not surprisingly, Villarreal emerged in the second half in buoyant mood and attacked with determination.

Cassano on target
That optimism took a knock five minutes after the restart as Roma found the perfect moment to click. Emerson battled bravely for possession on the edge of the Villarreal box before pushing the ball out left to Totti, whose low cross beat Quique Álvarez allowing Cassano to tap in from close range.

Roman pressure
Cassano almost returned the favour for Totti, setting up his fellow forward, but the Italian international playmaker's fierce shot from distance was just too high.

Lethal counterattack
Forced to find an away goal, the visitors stepped up a gear and responded in style. José Mari Romero found space on the right and sent in a whipped cross, which Anderson received and beat Roma defender Cristian Chivu before flicking his volleyed shot past Ivan Pelizzoli.

Two goals required
Needing teo goals to survive, Capello threw on Marco Delvecchio for Francesco Lima and Vincenzo Montella for Cassano, but neither found the space to make the difference. Meanwhile Villarreal took off Anderson and introduced midfield player Verza as the clock ran down.

Red card
Five minutes from time Battaglia, scrambling to get rid of a loose ball in the Villarreal box, was penalised for a high boot on the onrushing Vincent Candela. But Totti's free-kick from inside the area hit the Spanish wall and as the final whistle approached Roman nerves frayed, with French defender Jonathan Zebina shown a red card for a late challenge.