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2014/15 UEFA Europa League, 2014 First Round
  • Gerard Moreno (35')
  • Luciano Vietto (40')

Villarreal see off Apollon Limassol to advance in Europa League

Two goals in five first-half minutes sealed victory for Villarreal over Apollon Limassol and sealed the Spanish side's place in the next round of the Europa League.

FC Zurich's defeat at Borussia Monchengladbach meant Villarreal would have qualified regardless but Gerard Moreno and Luciano Vietto netted before the break to deliver a 2-0 win and ensure qualification for the Round of 32 on their own terms.

Bottom-placed Apollon were tame in defeat, bowing out of the competition with just three points.

Villarreal were quick to get on the front foot, Vietto taking just six minutes to test Isli Hidi from the edge of the area and Tomas Pina heading wide from a decent position soon after.

The visitors cranked up the pressure as the game continued, with Moreno earning a corner when his right-footed shot was parried by Hidi and Vietto slotting wide from 12 yards from the subsequent attack.

Giorgos Merkis was helping his goalkeeper fight fires at the back, twice putting his body on the line to block efforts from Antonio Rukavina and Moreno, while Vietto's next opening saw him again denied by Hidi from just six yards.

The pressure eventually told when the two liveliest players on the pitch combined for Villarreal.

Vietto put the ball into the penalty box, which Apollon failed to properly deal with, allowing Moreno to steal in at close range and lift his shot deflty over Hidi.

Five minutes later the home side had slipped further behind.

Jaume Costa played creator this time, though his untidy ball across goal was rescued somewhat by Vietto's clinical low finish.

The Spaniards were less adventurous after the break, the job largely done given Apollon's modest attacking threat.

Indeed, Gaston Sangoy's hopeful long-range free-kick, which sailed comfortably wide of Sergio Asenjo's goal, merely underlined the hosts' struggles.

Azenjo did save well from Jan Rezek's header with 12 minutes to go but an unlikely comeback only became more fanciful as Villarreal closed the game out to progress.