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Villarreal keep out Bayer Leverkusen to reach last eight

17/03/2016

Villarreal shut out Bayer Leverkusen to book their place in the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg, Villarreal's defence once again proved rock solid as they held out for a goalless draw in Germany.

Kyriakos Papadopoulos' header against the bar early in the second half was as close as Leverkusen came but they were unable to put real pressure on their Primera Division opponents.

The visitors would have taken heart from Villarreal conceding four against Sevilla on Sunday, their worst defensive display of the season, but instead the Spaniards racked up a ninth clean sheet in 12 matches.

In the opening stages the hosts had plenty of possession without testing Sergio Asenjo, who was making his first appearance in the Villarreal goal since April 2015 following knee problems.

The best opening of the half actually came at the other end, with Roberto Soldado playing in Denis Suarez, who was denied by a good block from Papadopoulos.

It took nine minutes of the second half for Leverkusen to create their one real chance. Papadopoulos rose to meet a corner but his header into the ground bounced up and hit the bar.

Villarreal will be without defender Antonio Rukavina for the quarterfinal after he picked up his third yellow card of the competition in the 60th minute for a foul on Robbie Kruse.

But the threat to the Spaniards in this tie was fading fast, and it was Villarreal who could have extended their aggregate lead in the final quarter.

First Cedric Bakambu, the scorer of both goals in the first leg, missed the target when he should have done better then Bernd Leno came to the rescue of Leverkusen with saves from Soldado and Bruno Soriano.

The Germans managed only their second shot on target with eight minutes left but Asenjo comfortably dealt with Hakan Calhanoglu's free kick.

And it was Villarreal who again came close in the final moments, with Adrian Lopez drawing another good save from Leno.

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