Sparta Praha 2-4 Villarreal (agg: 3-6)
The Spanish club showed exactly why they are the leading scorers in the history of the competition to ease through to the semi-finals.
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- Villarreal reach semi-finals for third time with victory at Sparta Praha
- Cédric Bakambu strikes twice to take competition tally to nine goals
- Samuel Castillejo also on the mark, David Lafata turns into his own net
- Bořek Dočkal and Ladislav Krejčí net consolation goals
- Semi-final draw streamed live from Nyon at 12.30CET on Friday 15 April
Cédric Bakambu flexed his muscles to score twice as Villarreal blew away Sparta Praha in the first half to progress to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals.
Bakambu struck the first goal after five minutes as he raced onto a defence-splitting pass and shrugged off Lukáš Mareček's challenge to finish. Sparta subsequently squandered a series of presentable chances, the best of which Ladislav Krejčí sent wide from close range five minutes before the break.
By the time the half-time whistle was blown, the hosts were faced with an insurmountable task after conceding twice in the dying moments of the half. Samuel Castillejo struck the first with a rasping drive from outside the box, before Bruno Soriano's header ricocheted off Sparta forward and past goalkeeper David Bičík.
Bakambu scored his second four minutes after the restart, bumping off a tackle from Tiémoko Konaté to score his fourth in two games against Sparta. The Czech club needed six goals to qualify at that point, but stirred themselves with a display of character as Bořek Dočkal arrowed a in before Krejčí side-footed in to further reduce their arrears.
Bakambu on fire
The striker has strength in abundance and no little pace either. His speed set him on his way to scoring the opening goal, before he barrelled his way past Mareček's challenge. However, composure was also key to both strikes, with his second also relying on his power before he placed his finish into the net.
Sparta show spirit
Zdeněk Ščasný's team must have left the field at half-time scratching their heads as to how they had ended it three goals down. Things got even worse after the break and they were staring down the barrel of their heaviest home defeat in the competition. Instead of Villarreal running riot, however, Sparta kept their heads up and crafted two good goals.