Villarreal cruise, Portuguese trio shine
Villarreal maintained Spain's iron grip on domestic European competition in recent days after easing to a thumping 5-1 win over FC Twente in tonight's UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg at El Madrigal. Barcelona and Real Madrid cruised to one-sided wins in the UEFA Champions League earlier in the week and tonight it was the turn of Villarreal to shine in Europe's second-tier competition.
Villarreal stunned the Dutch league leaders with goals from Nilmar, Carlos Marchena, Borja Valero and Giuseppe Rossi. Twente pulled a late goal back through Marc Janko to give them a glimmer of hope for the second leg.
Newly-crowned Portuguese champions Porto were also 5-1 winners as they crushed hapless Spartak Moscow at Estadio do Dragao.
A hat-trick by Falcao guided Porto to the emphatic win which, barring a miraculous comeback, all but ensures the Portuguese side of their place in the final four. Falcao gave the hosts a first-half lead before scoring two goals in the last six minutes as the Porto forwards gave their Russian opponents a torrid time.
Silvestre Varela also scored for Porto, while Dmitri Kombarov put through his own net. Kombarov atoned by pulling one back for the visitors, but Spartak's hopes are faded by this defeat.
The good news for the Iberian teams kept on coming as Benfica cruised to a 4-1 win over PSV Eindhoven. Javier Saviola rounded off a fine night for the hosts with an injury-time strike after PSV looked to have clawed their back into contention with an 80th-minute goal from Zakaria Labyad. Until Labyad gave PSV hope, Benfica largely dominated with Eduardo Salvio's two strikes either side of half-time adding to Pablo Aimar's opener.
Braga made it three Portuguese teams in the driving seat to likely reach the semi-finals as they posted a valuable 1-1 draw in the away leg of their tie at ten-man Dynamo Kyiv. Dynamo went up after only six minutes through Andriy Yarmolenko, but their lead did not last long as Ognjen Vukojevic put through his own net eight minutes later.
Half-time substitute Andriy Shevchenko was dismissed for the home side after 61 minutes for collecting his second booking.