Celtic, Sevilla and Basle qualify for Europa League last-32

Cedric Bakambu at the double as Villarreal hold narrow advantage

08/04/2016

The in-form Cedric Bakambu scored twice as Villarreal took a 2-1 first-leg lead in their Europa League quarterfinal against Sparta Prague.

The DR Congo forward's farcical third-minute opener was cancelled out in first-half stoppage time by Jakub Brabec to leave the scores level at the break.

But he struck again just after the hour -- his seventh goal in six games -- to give his side a slender advantage to take to the Czech capital next week.

The opener came from the first serious attack of the game -- if, indeed, it could even be classified as such.

Martin Frydek's eccentric back-pass from the left wing position was controlled by goalkeeper David Bicik but he then cleared the ball against the onrushing Bakambu and watched the ball rebound past him into the net.

Mario Gaspar fired Bruno Soriano's corner over the bar and Bicik saved from Samu Castillejo, before Roberto Soldado headed Denis Suarez's corner wide.

Bicki saved from Bakambu and opposite number Sergio Asenjo denied Tiemoko Konate before Sparta lost Mario Holek to injury before the half-hour.

Villarreal went desperately close to a second in the 33rd minute, Bicik saving from Bakambu and Brabec blocking his follow-up. Soldado headed the resulting corner straight at the keeper.

Soldado had an effort blocked and Victor Ruiz headed over, but it was Sparta who struck right on half-time, Borek Dockal's corner headed in by defender Brabec.

If Sparta's start to the first half had been bad, the second almost began in even worse fashion, Mario heading against the crossbar little more than 30 seconds after the restart.

Bicik parried Soldado's 20-yard effort, but Bakambu restored Villarreal's lead in the 63rd minute, stroking a calm right-footed finish into the corner of the net from inside the 'D' after Suarez laid the ball off to him.

Suarez and Leo Baptistao had shots blocked by Brabec and Radoslav Kovac respectively before Bicik made a superb double save from Suarez and Bakambu.

Costa Nhamoinesu repelled Soldado's close-range shot and Bicik completed his redemption after his early howler by saving well from Suarez in injury time.

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