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Rossi Sends Villarreal Into Champions League Group Stages

Villarreal will play in the Champions League group stages for the third time thanks in part to two second-half goals from Giuseppe Rossi against Odense.

For 50 minutes at El Madrigal it was the Stefan Wessels show as the goalkeeper did his utmost to preserve OB’s 1-0 first-leg lead. Once Rossi scored for the sixth successive European home game, however, the hosts’ momentum proved impossible to resist. The Italy striker doubled his and Villarreal’s lead midway through the second half, with Carlos Marchena adding a third eight minutes from time and consigning OB to the UEFA Europa League.

Having withstood a barrage of pressure last week, the second leg proved no different for OB. Desperate to wipe out their deficit, the Yellow Submarine elicited four saves from Wessels before the break, the first of which was an acrobatic effort to tip over Marcos Senna’s free-kick.

Rossi then cleared the crossbar following a disguised corner from Borja Valero, before the latter forced the OB keeper into a sharp stop at his near post. Wessels’ most impressive act, however, came seven minutes before half-time.

Seconds after repelling Javier Camuñas’s strike, the 32-year-old was quickly back to his feet to keep out Rossi’s impudent chip. The half-time stats said it all: OB had not registered a shot of any substance and ceded 61% of possession to their opponents.

If Wessels was hoping for a quieter second period, he got his answer within 60 seconds of the restart when Joan Oriol and Senna warmed his palms. The goal finally arrived five minutes into the second half as Rossi, via the hands of Wessels, turned in Nilmar’s centre. The Yellow Submarine were suddenly afloat in the tie.

If that was cruel on Wessels, he was powerless to prevent Rossi’s second. In space on the right, Cani delivered a perfect cross over the visitors’ defence which the forward expertly volleyed in for his 21st goal in UEFA competition.

The only blot on an otherwise perfect night for the Liga team was the red card shown to Valero for retaliating to Andreas Johansson’s challenge, six minutes after OB’s Bashkim Kadrii received his second booking. Marchena’s late third, through Wessel’s hands, was the icing on the cake.