Villarreal fairytale continues
By James Pearson
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Villarreal are sensationally through to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
Villarreal are sensationally through to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League following a 1-0 success over Internazionale.
The Yellow Submarines trailed 2-1 from the first leg in Italy, but Rodolfo Arruabarrena's second-half header ensured the Spaniards progressed on the away goals rule.
Inter were strangely subdued on the night with Adriano and Alvaro Recoba disappointing up front, while Marco Materazzi was lucky to escape red for a blatant elbow on Juan Pablo Sorin.
The contest began lively enough at El Madrigal, although it proved a false dawn as Inter comfortably held out the home side in the opening 45 minutes to retain their slender advantage.
Jose Mari had a chance at the far post after 15 minutes from Javi Venta's cross, but Greek referee Kyros Vassaras had already given a foul against the Spaniard.
Marcos Senna tried his luck from distance, although Francesco Toldo was happy to watch the ball drift wide of goal, while Arruabarrena's header was easily gathered by the experienced shot-stopper.
The home side continued to create the better chances, although Juan Roman Riquelme would have been better advised to pass the ball rather than blazing over with his left foot from outside the box.
Inter did ensure keeper Sebastian Viera was awake in the home goal when Dejan Stankovic's deflected shot flew goalwards, but the effort was easily collected by the Uruguayan.
Villarreal finished the half in the ascendancy, however, Riquelme was unable to keep his shot below the bar after a fine jinking run left defenders trailing in his wake.
The home side continued to press after the interval and Jose Mari was close to netting with Toldo tipping his effort over the bar after good work down the right by Senna.
The visitors were being restricted to long-range efforts with Veron's shot deflected out for a corner while Riquelme struck a fierce shot straight at Toldo.
Just before the hour mark Villarreal's persistence finally paid dividends when Arruabarrena guided Riquelme's clever free-kick beyond Toldo.
Riquelme, who was the star man through-out, opted to chip the ball into the area rather than a shot on goal and his delivery was inch perfect for Arruabarrena to guide home.
The goal visibly lifted the hosts and only a fine stop from Toldo denied Forlan a goal as his left-footed shot was detained for the top corner following a good one-two with Jose Mari.
Inter opted to introduce Obafemi Martins in the fray and his pace caused problems, although Viera had little to do on the night against a tame attack from the Italian outfit.
The visitors should have been a man down after 67 minutes when Materazzi floored Sorin with a blatant elbow, however Vassaras and his assistants managed to spot the incident.
Sorin bravely battled on, but his left eye swiftly ballooned forcing him off the field, and the home support appreciated his display giving him a great reception off the field.
Forlan could have settled the contest after 82 minutes but, after a delighted through-ball from Riquelme, the former Manchester United striker stabbed his first-time effort just wide of goal.
Moments later a flying save from Toldo denied Riquelme and although Adriano came close in the dying stages, they failed to muster an equaliser leaving Villarreal to face either Arsenal or Juventus in the semi-finals.
Click here for Villarreal v Internazionale player ratings.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|7||Shots on Target||2|
|9||Shots off Target||3|