Valencia overcome Villarreal to set up Europa League semi-final with former boss Unai Emery

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Dani Parejo celebrates his goal.

Valencia boss Marcelino said he was proud of his side after they booked their place in the Europa League semi-finals with a 2-0 win over La Liga rivals Villarreal

Toni Lato netted his first senior goal for the club in the 13th minute before Dani Parejo doubled the lead at the start of the second half to secure a 5-1 aggregate victory.

Marcelino told a press conference reported by Uefa.com: “We are proud of what we’ve done and grateful to the players.

“We are in a semi-final, a final and doing well in the league. We’d like to be in two finals in this centenary season.”

On his semi-final opponents Arsenal, he added: “They have a coach we know very well here and some extraordinary players.

“But if there’s any more pressure on them to win this competition, we’ll play the semi-final with just the same desire to go through as they have.”

The game was played in torrential rain at the Mestella.

Marcelino added: “I thank the crowd for coming tonight. I’ve been in this city for a couple of years and never seen it rain like this but they came, roared their support and stayed on an ugly night of unbelievable weather.”

Villarreal coach Javier Calleja felt his side missed too many chances as they sought to overcome a 3-1 first-leg deficit.

“We’ve given two serious performances. We really showed up in each match. The first leg probably marked the way this quarter-final would end up,” Calleja said.

“We created lots of chances, which against Valencia is tough. But we missed too many – we didn’t quite have the definition to tuck them away.”

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Eintracht Frankfurt reverse two-goal deficit to beat Benfica and reach Europa League semi-finals

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Eintracht Frankfurt head coach Adi Hutter hailed his side after they reversed a two-goal first-leg deficit to beat Benfica and reach the Europa League semi-finals.

Goals from Filip Kostic and Sebastian Rode gave the German side a 2-0 win on the night which erased their 4-2 defeat from the first leg and sent them through to face Chelsea on the away goals rule.

Hutter told his club’s official website: “It was a perfect game and a perfect evening – Benfica went all out to score but we stood up and we certainly deserved to win.

“We have delivered great performances in the Europa League. At 1-0 we had the necessary luck. Our tactical discipline was important and we absorbed the emotions of the audience.”

Hutter also said he was relishing the prospect of facing Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea and stressed his own side’s underdog status for the tie.

“We are perhaps the least anticipated semi-finalists, and Chelsea will be the favourites,” Hutter added.

Benfica coach Bruno Lage, who was sent to the stands for protesting that Kostic’s effort should have been ruled out for offside, said his side were left to rue missed chances.

In an interview quoted by uefa.com, Lage said: “I believe that, although we weren’t as strong as we were in the first leg, we created enough opportunities to qualify.

“During the first half the pressure was not as strong as we wanted. In the second half we got better and we tried to go looking for the result, but unfortunately we failed.”

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Chelsea make life difficult but reach Europa League semis with see-saw 4-3 Slavia Prague win

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Maurizio Sarri admitted Chelsea made life difficult for themselves after they reached the semi-finals of the Europa League following a see-saw 4-3 win over Slavia Prague.

With Chelsea leading 1-0 from the first leg, the tie should have been over as a contest after only 15 minutes as they sliced Slavia apart three times.

But Chelsea have developed a nasty habit of conceding early in the second half and once again there were some hairy moments as the visitors hit back twice to trail by just one on the night.

“We played very well in the first half,” said Blues boss Sarri. “But as usual in the last two months we started very badly in the second half.

“We need a solution. In the last 10 matches we started like in this match, it’s a big problem.

“Probably at the end of the first half we thought we had qualified, but against this opponent it was not true. I have never seen something like these opponents physically, so it was clear the second half could be difficult for us.

“But we did something wrong in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

“At half-time I told them to start with the same application as they started the first, but we didn’t do it. It’s not easy to understand.

“I could try without going in the dressing room at half-time if I could solve the problem.”

Pedro opened the scoring following a flowing move involving Cesar Azpilicueta and Olivier Giroud, with the Spaniard applying the finish.

Pedro should have claimed the second but he somehow side-footed Eden Hazard’s inviting ball across goal on to the post.

Fortunately for the Blues the ball ricocheted into luckless defender Simon Deli and bounced into the net.

N’Golo Kante then set Pedro through to tee up Giroud for his 10th goal in the competition this season.

That should have been that, but Chelsea’s defence dozed off in the 26th minute to allow the unmarked Tomas Soucek to pull one back with a header at the far post.

Chelsea merely went straight down the other end and restored their four-goal cushion, Pedro pouncing on the rebound after Giroud’s close-range effort was saved.

Yet a 5-1 aggregate lead at half-time became 5-3 only 10 minutes into the second half, a quickfire double from Petr Sevcik raising the Czech side’s hopes of a staging remarkable comeback.

But Chelsea weathered the storm to set up a semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Hazard, the subject of a couple of clattering early challenges, was taken off midway through the second half, but Sarri hopes he will be fit to face Burnley on Monday.

“It’s nothing serious, I hope,” he added. “It’s only a strong knock. But I think we can recover him for the next match on Monday.”

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