Sports Desk, Apr 15 (EFE).- Villarreal turned in a methodical performance Thursday in their Europa League quarterfinal second leg against Dinamo Zagreb, winning 2-1 on the night for a 3-1 triumph to reach the last four for the first time since 2016.
After taking the first leg in Croatia 0-1, the Spanish club were the clear favorites.
Yet Dinamo managed to hold the hosts at bay until the 25th minute, when only the post stopped Samuel Chukwueze from doubling Villarreal’s advantage.
The breakthrough came nine minutes later as Paco Alcacer put the ball past Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic after he came off his line to challenge the onrushing Chukwueze.
The goal stood after a VAR review to check for offside.
Gerard Moreno extended the lead to 2-0 (3-0) in the 43rd minute, taking advantage of a favorable rebound after a strike from Alcacer hit the post.
Dinamo’s Bruno Petkovic forced a stop from Villarreal keeper Gero Rulli in the 49th minute.
Mislav Orsic sent a shot wide of the Villarreal goal in the 64th seconds before Livakovic leapt to tip a Moreno effort over the cross-bar.
Ten minutes later, Orsic put Dinamo on the scoreboard with a big assist from Petkovic.
Chukwueze hit the post on the next Villarreal attack and went on to compel another outstanding save from Livakovic in the 80th minute.
What turned out to be the last gasp for Dinamo came in the 88th minute, when Orsic’s free kick from a good spot sailed over the cross-bar.
The outcome sets up a semifinal clash with Arsenal, Villarreal manager Unai Emery’s former club.
Current Gunners coach Mikel Arteta said Wednesday that Emery, who hoisted the Europa League trophy three times during his time in charge of Sevilla, as “probably the most successful manager in this competition.” EFE