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Villarreal keep Leverkusen at bay to advance

Leverkusen 0-0 Villarreal (agg: 0-2)
The hosts never gave up hope, but Villarreal's ninth clean sheet in 12 games was enough to take the Spanish side into the last eight.

Highlights: Villarreal progress after goalless draw
  • Villarreal through to the quarter-finals for a fourth time
  • Kyriakos Papadopoulos hits the frame of the goal for dominant Leverkusen
  • Sergio Asenjo, back after knee problems, makes first appearance since last April
  • Antonio Rukavina picks up booking that rules him out of quarter-final first leg
  • Quarter-final draw streamed live on UEFA.com from 13.00CET on Friday

Villarreal are through to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals after another sound defensive display kept dominant Leverkusen's comeback hopes at bay.

Trailing 2-0 after the round of 16 first leg, Leverkusen were always up against it and though they met the challenge head on, the comeback was never really on the cards. Kyriakos Papadopoulos went close to a breakthrough soon after half-time, heading against the bar, but that was as good as it got.

Rukavina challenges Kruse
Rukavina challenges Kruse©Getty Images

Leverkusen did link up well with some slick passing in midfield, dominating possession. Yet the final ball was always just lacking. There is no shame in that, and that sinking feeling in front of goal has become familiar for opponents of Villarreal of late – eight clean sheets in their past 11 outings bore testament to that.

Even when the hosts did find a way through, as Hakan Çalhanoğlu did on 19 minutes, the alert Sergio Asenjo blocked their path. Papadopoulos's header following a corner almost did the trick, but in truth Villarreal always looked equally likely to score, with Denis Suárez, Roberto Soldado and Cédric Bakambu all spurning good chances.

You could not fault Leverkusen's effort, even at the death when André Ramalho brilliantly intercepted Villarreal substitute Manu Trigueros's shot on the line with the Bayer goal seemingly at his mercy. It mattered not, though. Bakambu and Villarreal had done the damage in the first leg.

Papadopoulos tackles Denis Suárez
Papadopoulos tackles Denis Suárez©Getty Images

Key man: Kyriakos Papadopoulos
A typically dynamic performance from the Greece centre-back. His block on Suárez before half-time kept the home side's faint hopes alive and he came as close as anyone to conjuring up a goal, heading a corner into the ground and onto the bar. With Leverkusen battling for a European place in the Bundesliga, coach Roger Schmidt would not have enjoyed the sight of Papadopoulos limping off late on.

Asenjo as reassuring as ever 
The former Spain U21 keeper has had a torrid 11 months, ravaged by knee ligament problems. In his absence, on-loan Alphonse Aréola has established himself as Villarreal's No1 and Mariano Barbosa has been used a lot in the UEFA Europa League. Both are carrying knocks, however, allowing Asenjo a first outing since April 2015. He took it with both hands, looking composed and alert throughout.

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