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Five reasons why Sevilla beat Villarreal

Vitolo's finishing, Stéphane Mbia's specialism and Villarreal CF's injuries all contributed to Sevilla FC's 3-1 win, according to UEFA.com's Delfín Ramírez.

Sevilla are in sight of the last eight
Sevilla are in sight of the last eight ©AFP/Getty Images

UEFA Europa League holders Sevilla FC claimed a 3-1 round of 16 first-leg victory at Liga rivals Villarreal CF on Thursday night and UEFA.com reporter Delfín Ramírez suggests five reasons why.

Vitolo shining
Vitolo is enjoying his best form as a Sevilla player and as the icing on the cake scored the fastest goal in UEFA Europa League history after just 13.21 seconds. He was the two-goal key player in the second leg of the round of 32 tie against VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach and went into the Villarreal opener having scored twice in the Liga against RC Deportivo La Coruña at the weekend. Coach Vicente del Bosque is rumoured to be monitoring his performances and the secret to Vitolo's success is clear: "Everything is going well for me. I am very happy and I want to continue working with humility. If I do that, I'm sure I will achieve even more successes."

Mbia shows his height in attack
Mbia shows his height in attack©AFP/Getty Images

Mbia's love affair
If there is a player at Sevilla with a special love affair with the UEFA Europa League, it is the man that got the second goal last night: midfielder Stéphane Mbia. He was the added-time hero last season in the semi-final against Valencia CF, and the Cameroon midfielder's passion and character is a part of the side. Injuries and the Africa Cup of Nations have impeded him this season, but Unai Emery knows how important the 28-year-old can be, especially in the air – as he showed against Villarreal.

Adaptable Iborra
Vicente Iborra epitomised the versatility Emery encourages in his players, doing stout work in attack, defence and midfield. "The team is working well," the 27-year-old concluded. "We adapt well to any type of system that the coach wants – we try to adapt to every game, and that's the most important thing, that the team knows how to give its best."

Villarreal did pull a goal back
Villarreal did pull a goal back©AFP/Getty Images

Depleted Villarreal
Villarreal's absentees might also have had a say in their defeat. Injured Bruno Soriano and the suspended Tomás Pina missed out, as well as centre-back Víctor Ruiz, meaning Marcelino's side had a bit of a defensive crisis on their hands. Sevilla have strength and power in midfield, and that showed on Thursday. Villarreal defender Mario Gaspar noted: "They have very powerful players – tall players in all positions. They made use of that and it went well for them."

Set -piece ability
Indeed, Villarreal coach Marcelino had warned as such in his pre-match press conference, pointing out Sevilla's aerial strength in set-pieces and attacking play generally. Iborra, Mbia and Grzegorz Krychowiak provide that height in defence and attack and with Villarreal depleted, Sevilla are all but through to next Friday's quarter-final draw.