Marcelino insists his Villarreal players still have work to do before they can reach the UEFA Europa League group stages, despite Thursday night’s 3-0 victory at Astana. Goals from Cani, Giovani dos Santos and Mario Gaspar in Kazakhstan ensured the Yellow Submarine built a healthy lead in the two-legged play-off.
Barring a shock result at El Madrigal next week, Marcelino’s men will make it through to the next round, but the former Sevilla boss knows Astana have the potential to raise their game for the second leg. He told villarrealcf.es:
“We cannot think that it is already done, but we have taken a huge step towards progressing in the Europa League.
“They have quality players, good rhythm, and their synthetic pitch gave them an advantage. We were the favourites coming from a major league, but we had to respect our opponents and do a good job in defence and attack.
“I liked almost everything I saw, it was our first game and we were struggling with tiredness. Maybe we could have got another goal in the final stages. We have a competitive team and are satisfied that we have clinched such a result right at the start of the season.”
On the opposing Spanish coash, Jagoba Arrasate is excited to head to Russia and see if his Real Sociedad side have what it takes to reach the group stages. Xabi Prieto’s second-half goal at Anoeta earned the Basque outfit their 1-0 victory over FC Krasnodar, who will host next week’s second leg.
And given the Russians dominated for large swathes of the first game, Arrasate is demanding his players hit them for a vital away goal early on at the Saturn Stadium. He told planetadeporte.es: “We have taken the first step, which was to win here without conceding a goal.
“It’s a good result but we know that this is a tie between two good teams. So we’ll take the next step and see if we’ve got what it takes. We made a very good start, there were 20 or 25 minutes where we had chances and were fluent while our opponents were barely there. But from there, we saw a little dip that cost us and allowed them to raise their game.
“We started the second half quite open and they had a pretty good time of it. But after that we took charge, scored a goal, and could have scored a few more. If you give them the slightest chance then they’re dangerous, especially on the counter-attack, and we have to respect them because it’s still game-on.”