Sports Desk, Apr 8 (efe-epa).- Villarreal prevailed 0-1 against Dinamo Zagreb in Thursday’s first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal.
Though the visitors had 61 percent possession, the teams ended the night level on shots and the only goal came on a penalty.
The first chance of the contest fell to Villarreal’s Alfonso Pedraza, who sent a poor effort into the arms of Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.
Visiting keeper Gero Rulli had to work much harder four minutes later to redirect a blast from Lovro Majer, while Dinamo’s Kevin Theophile-Catherine wasted a good opportunity in the 13th minute.
In the 21st, Livakovic deftly blocked a Pedraza strike.
The sides looked set to reach half-time deadlocked at 0-0 when the referee pointed to the spot after Gerard Moreno’s cross struck the arm of Theophile-Catherine.
Moreno fooled Livakovic and converted to give Villarreal the lead in the 43rd minute.
Villarreal used their possession game to good effect in the second half, limiting Dinamo to a single shot on target by Josko Gvardiol, who forced an impressive stop from Rulli in the 57th minute.
While it took some heroics from Livakovic to deny Manu Trigueros with 20 minutes left.
Villarreal are now undefeated in 10 Europa League matches this season under coach Unai Emery, who hoisted the trophy three years in a row as manager of Sevilla and guided Arsenal to a second-place finish during his brief, unhappy stint with the Gunners.
With the away goal in their pocket, the Spanish squad are in good shape looking toward the second leg in Villarreal. EFE ag/dr