Form guide: While Villarreal CF were advancing, opponents AZ Alkmaar consolidated second place.
Villarreal CF were not in domestic action at the weekend as they still had to complete their UEFA Cup Round of 16 tie with FC Steaua Bucuresti, which they won to set up a quarter-final with in-form AZ Alkmaar.
Snow in Romania had postponed Villarreal's trip to Steaua by six days to last Wednesday, and the first leg ended goalless. The return was on Sunday, when a goal in each half from José Mari Romero and Juan Román Riquelme took Spain's sole European survivors through 2-0.
Captain Quique Álvarez was suspended against Steaua, allowing him to rest his injured knee, while Juan Sorín was taken off in the second half but should be fit for the first leg at home against Alkmaar on 7 April. Long-term knee injury casualties Roger García and Sebastián Battaglia continue with their recovery programmes while Diego Forlán is cup-tied.
Alkmaar, fresh from eliminating FC Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek, consolidated second place in the Eredivisie with a 3-0 victory at home to SBV Vitesse. Kew Jaliens headed Alkmaar ahead just before half-time, and in the last ten minutes captain Denny Landzaat - in his 250th Eredivisie appearance - converted a penalty and Olaf Lindenbergh added a third.
Jaliens started the game in place of suspended defender Jan Kromkamp, while PSV Eindhoven's 4-0 win at AFC Ajax keeps them seven points ahead of Alkmaar, the same margin by which Co Adriaanse's side now lead the third-placed Amsterdam club. Juha Reini is the only man on the Alkmaar injury list as he recovers from achilles surgery.