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Alcácer inspires historic Valencia comeback

Valencia CF 5-0 FC Basel 1893 (aet, agg: 5-3 )
Paco Alcácer hit a sensational hat-trick as the hosts became the first side in UEFA Europa League history to wipe out a three-goal deficit.

Paco Alcácer (centre) celebrates after putting Valencia 3-0 up on the night
Paco Alcácer (centre) celebrates after putting Valencia 3-0 up on the night ©AFP/Getty Images

Paco Alcácer hit a sensational hat-trick as Valencia CF became the first side in the UEFA Europa League era to wipe out a three-goal deficit at the expense of FC Basel 1893.

Needing to recover from a 3-0 first-leg defeat to advance to Friday's semi-final draw, Juan Antonio Pizzi's team took to the task with gusto, a Paco Alcácer brace and an Eduardo Vargas goal sending the tie into extra time. With Marcelo Díaz and Gastón Sauro having been sent off, Basel crumbled, Alcácer completing his treble before Juan Bernat added a fifth.

Valencia dominated possession from the off, but a boisterous Mestalla crowd had to wait until the 38th minute for their opener, Alcácer expertly chesting down João Pereira's lofted through pass before slamming home his fifth goal in the competiton. The 2004 UEFA Cup winners swiftly made it 2-0, Vargas making amends for directing a close-range effort straight at Yann Sommer by heading in from Fede Cartabia's resulting corner.

"We have to believe," coach Pizzi had insisted beforehand, and his charges followed those instructions after the restart, with the energetic Vargas denied by Sommer before finding the outside of the post from the rebound. Resigned to a first defeat in 18 games in all competitions, Murat Yakin's side defended in numbers, yet almost conceded again when Alcácer's shot from distance was tipped onto the crossbar by Basel's busy No1.

The seemingly inevitable third goal finally came on 70 minutes as Alcácer powered Vargas's clever cutback in off the crossbar. A combination of Sommer and the upright denied Alcácer and then Vargas from winning this quarter-final before the final whistle, while Daniel Parejo's low attempt was diverted wide by the Swiss international keeper as the onslaught continued into extra time.

The dismissals, either side of the 90-minute mark, of Díaz and Sauro tilted the odds further in Valencia's favour, though the nine men momentarily silenced the Mestalla when Serey Die's deflected strike went agonisingly close. The match's logical conclusion was finally reached when Alcácer rounded off his hat-trick, with Bernat registering at the death to turn a triumph into a rout.