Valencia manager Marcelino heaped praise on goalkeeper Neto and admitted their 3-1 Europa League quarter-final victory over local rivals Villarreal flattered his side.
The visitors struck twice in added time, with Daniel Wass and Goncalo Guedes securing Marcelino’s men a commanding advantage to take to the Mestalla next week.
But Villarreal had dominated the second half, buoyed by Santi Cazorla’s equaliser from the penalty spot, and Valencia keeper Neto was a key man in securing his side’s win.
Marcelino said in quotes reported on uefa.com: “Neto was brilliant I’d say. But to consider just one player responsible for a result, in my modest opinion, isn’t feasible.
“The collective makes individuals great. But Neto made some saves which kept us at 1-1 for a long time.
“We started really well, 1-0 up and two big chances for 2-0. But from the moment it went 1-1 Villarreal had opportunities to score. Neto played really well for us.
“The last 15 or 20 minutes I’d say we dominated. Villarreal were high up the pitch late on, looking for 2-1. We created good dangerous opportunities and scored two magnificent goals. That means we leave here with a big result, possibly bigger than the performance of the other team would suggest.
“Villarreal is a really good team. Full of top footballers. This was the first time they lost in this season’s Europa League. They’ve been more true to their real potential in Europe than domestically.”
Valencia, who are 12 places above their relegation-threatened east coast neighbours in LaLiga, were ahead after six minutes when Guedes scored the rebound from Dani Parejo’s missed penalty.
But Villarreal responded with a spot-kick of their own after 36 minutes, former Arsenal midfielder Cazorla making no mistake from 12 yards.
The crucial blows were delivered by Valencia in added time, Wass first firing in left-footed from Jose Gaya’s cross before Guedes struck again to leave Villarreal facing an uphill struggle.
Villarreal coach Javier Calleja felt his side deserved more from the game.
“This result is bad, really bad, but unfair. We gave some gifts away after a top performance. Valencia have players who are used to playing at the top and punishing you,” Calleja said.
“We played 75 great minutes; good chances, control of the ball. The last 15 minutes we dropped our rhythm a little and we struggled physically. That meant Valencia had more of the ball, more space and they hurt us.”
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