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Cheryshev gives Villarreal edge

Villarreal CF 2-1 FC Salzburg
Denis Cheryshev capped a fine individual display with Villarreal's winner but Jonatan Soriano's away goal gives Salzburg hope.

Villarreal celebrate Ikechukwu Uche's first-half opener
Villarreal celebrate Ikechukwu Uche's first-half opener ©AFP/Getty Images

• Denis Cheryshev restores Villarreal's lead six minutes after Salzburg equalise
Former Espanyol striker Jonatan Soriano scores visitors' goal
• Salzburg and Villarreal and the top scorers in the UEFA Europa League
The second leg is next Thursday in Austria, with the last 16 draw the following day

Villarreal CF edged an absorbing contest against a combative FC Salzburg side, but Jonatan Soriano's goal on his return to Spain means that this UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie remains wide open.

Ikechukwu Uche gave the home side a well-merited first-half lead, but they failed to capitalise on their chances and Jonatan Soriano's penalty after the restart threatened to make them pay. Denis Cheryshev quickly restored Villarreal's lead, however, and they will take a slender lead into next week's second leg.

The hosts had the better of the first half, with the impressive Cheryshev and aggressive Luciano Vietto causing plenty of problems down the left flank. At times they were dominating, getting closer and closer to Péter Gulácsi's goal without creating any clear-cut chances. Salzburg, through Marco Djuricin and André Ramalho, posed a real threat on the break, meanwhile.

Villarreal regained the initiative and no sooner had they done so than they broke the deadlock. Uche did the damage, firing in a rebound after Gulácsi had denied Vietto. A second goal nearly followed swiftly, but Vietto's header dropped the wrong side of the post.

Villarreal were almost cruising, but the second half got off to the worst possible start as Victor Ruiz brought down Djuricin and Soriano made it 1-1. If the Spanish side were stung they did not show it, and they responded with an excellent five-minute spell during which they put themselves back in front.

Cheryshev was at the heart of it, and moments after creating an opening for Uche he took matters into his own hands, controlling a pass and playing a one-two with Vietto before firing in. The Yellow Submarine were soon on the hunt for a third, with Vietto playing in Uche on the counterattack, but the Nigerian could not capitalise and this tie remains in the balance.

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