Evening all! Sports Mole
's live Europa League
coverage continues from Spain as Villarreal welcome Sevilla for the first leg of their last-16 clash. Both sides know each other extremely well from their domestic league, but this will be the first time that they have ever met in European competition.
Right, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from El Madrigal.
VILLARREAL: Asenjo; Mario, Musacchio, Bailly, Costa; Gomez, J.Dos Santos, Trigueros, Cheryshev; Vietto, Uche
SEVILLA: Rico; Diogo, Carrico, Pareja, Tremoulinas; Iborra, Krychowiak, Mbia; Vidal, Gameiro, Vitolo
So there we have it. As expected, Villarreal boss Marcelino has named a arguably his strongest XI, with leading scorer Luciano Vietto
joined by Ikechukwu Uche in attack. On-loan Real Madrid attacker Denis Cheryshev also returns in a wide position, while January signing Eric Bailly starts at centre-back alongside Mateo Musacchio. In-form forward Gerard Moreno, however, is only on the bench.
Sevilla boss Unai Emery, meanwhile, has recalled Kevin Gameiro
and Aleix Vidal, with Ever Banega and Carlos Bacca both dropping out. Stephane Mbia
also comes into the midfield, while Benoit Tremoulinas replaces Fernando Navaaro at left-back. In truth, there are no major surprises in either side.
As mentioned, tonight will be the first ever meeting between these two sides in European competition, but they have met on 33 occasions in Spain. Sevilla have won 17 of those particular matches, with Villarreal winning eight and the further eight fixtures ending in draws. What will this evening bring?
In terms of the recent meetings between the two sides, Sevilla have lost just one of the last five matches. They recorded a 2-1 win in this stadium in the league last season and have already beaten Villarreal 2-1 in the league this term. That said, there is just one place and one point separating the two teams in the La Liga table, with Sevilla sitting fifth and Villarreal occupying sixth position.
Overall, it has been a very impressive and prosperous season for Villarreal. They made it to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey before losing to Barcelona, while as mentioned, they are very much in the running for a European finish in the league. Their recent form has also been strong – winning four of their last six games in all competitions and losing just once – to Barcelona – in the process.
In terms of their progression to this stage, the Yellow Submarine finished second in Group A behind German outfit Borussia Monchengladbach, before overcoming Red Bull Salzburg 5-2 on aggregate in the round of 32. Villarreal's home record in Europe this season has also been impressive – winning four of their five matches and scoring 16 times in the process. Will that continue this evening?
© Getty Images
Sevilla, meanwhile, also finished with 11 points in the group stages, which saw them qualify from Group G behind Dutch giants Feyenoord. They then faced Monchengladbach in the round of 32 – recording a 4-2 aggregate win to book their spot in the round of 16. They are, of course, also the holders of this competition having beaten Benfica on penalties in last season's final.
In total, Sevilla have won this competition on three occasions (2006, 2007 and 2014). Villarreal, meanwhile, have reached this stage of the competition for the first time since the 2010-11 season, when they were advanced to the semi-finals before losing to eventual winners Porto.
Sevilla's recent form has also been pretty strong – winning four of their last six matches and losing just once in the process. They will enter the match off the back of a 4-3 win over Deportivo La Coruna at the weekend, but their away form this season, especially in the league, has been disappointing.
PREDICTION! In my opinion, this is a nailed-on draw. Sevilla have not been great away from home in the league this season, but they have been strong in this competition. I can see Villarreal taking the lead, but the visitors coming back to claim a 1-1 draw. There is a wonderful atmosphere here!
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the first period. Let's hope for an entertaining clash between the two Spanish rivals. It is the away side that get the action underway.
GOAL! Villarreal 0-1 Sevilla (Vitolo)
Thirteen seconds! Thirteen seconds and Sevilla are ahead! A direct ball from the back finds its way to Gameiro, who lifts one into the path of Vitolo and the Spaniard finishes from close range!
CROSSBAR! Villarreal come close to responding as the ball falls to Vietto inside the Sevilla box, but his effort smashes against the crossbar. Good grief what a start to this match here!
The match has just settled in the last couple of minutes, with Villarreal enjoying possession of the ball. Well, if this game is anything like the start, then we will have a real treat on our hands at El Madrigal.
It has been all Villarreal since Sevilla opened the scoring, with the home side working the ball from left to right in the final third. Cheryshev attempts to find the bottom corner, but Rico is across to make a really smart save. The referee is allowing this match to flow at the moment, which is excellent news.
Just a reminder that nothing will be decided tonight, with the second leg to come in Seville next week. The home side continue to force the issue in the final third and they force a free kick just outside the box when Krychowiak handles. Villarreal are looking for a quick response to that early Vitolo strike.
Jonathan dos Santos whips the resulting free kick towards the near post, but Carrico clears.
BOOKING! Krychowiak (Sevilla) is booked for a wild lunge on Vietto.
Jonathan dos Santos is again on free-kick duty, but Mbia is on hand to clear at the near post. The home side continue to force the issue in attack, with Sevilla simply unable to keep hold of the ball.
Since Gameiro provided the assist for the opening goal, the Frenchman has not touched the ball, which is an indication of Villarreal's dominance in the final third. The visitors, however, still lead.
Jaume Costa goes down inside the Sevilla box under pressure, but the referee is not interested in calls from the crowd. You just get the feeling that Villarreal need to score the next goal in this match.
Sevilla might be ahead, but they have not had the ball in the Villarreal half since the first minute. Again Mario is down the right for Villarreal, but his cross is cleared at the near post. Cheryshev is down the opposite side moments later, but Trigueros's effort was always moving wide.
Half-chance for Sevilla this time as Vitolo meets a corner from the right, but his volley was always moving high of the crossbar. The opening 18 minutes of this European contest have flown past.
Villarreal have got excellent width on the pitch this evening, with Cheryshev a real threat down the left. In fairness to Sevilla, however, they have defended very well thus far. Villarreal have another shout for a penalty as Vietto goes down under pressure from Carrico, but the referee says no thank you.
BOOKING! Costa (Villarreal) is booked for a late challenge on Vitolo.
CHANCE! Another golden chance for Sevilla as Carrico flicks a header into Iborra, who in turn heads towards the top corner, but Asenjo is on hand to make the save. End-to-end football here.
Half-chance for the home side this time as Cheryshev floats one towards the far corner, but Rico is on hand to make the save. Moments later, Rico denies the dangerous Vietto from a wide angle.
CHANCE! The constant pressure from Villarreal brings another opportunity as Cheryshev finds Musacchio with a super cross, but his header is just high of the crossbar. Still 1-0 Sevilla here.
It must be said that this has been a super opening 26 minutes at El Madrigal.
GOAL! Villarreal 0-2 Sevilla (Mbia)
WOW! Sevilla score their second of the match as Mbia powers a header into the back of the net after meeting a cross from Tremoulinas. Costa simply could not deal with the power of Mbia there.
It has been ALL Villarreal here, but they trail 2-0 at home. Football ay.
Is this tie already over?! Two away goals are just massive. Villarreal must find a serious response here if they are to stand a chance in the second leg. Sevilla have been very, very good at home this season.
Villarreal are again down the right as Mario drives past Tremoulinas before delivering, but his cross is straight behind for a goal-kick. Villarreal really need their supporters to stay with them tonight.
The referee has been more involved than he would have liked in the last few moments following a couple of late challenges. Costa, who has already been booked, needs to be very careful now.
BOOKING! Moi Gomez (Villarreal) is booked for a poor challenge on Tremoulinas.
You just get the feeling that there are at least a couple more goals in this match as Villarreal continue to press in the final third. Sevilla are fortunate to be two goals ahead, but they have defended well.
Uche fires one into the stands as Villarreal's frustration continues.
Little over five minutes of the first period remaining and Sevilla still lead 2-0 on the night. Will Villarreal boss Marcelino already be considering changes? The likes of Joel Campbell and Gerard Moreno have both been sent out to warm-up. Something needs to change in the final third here.
CROSSBAR! Sevilla come close to scoring a third as Gameiro races away from the Villarreal back four before squaring to Vidal, but his stinging effort strikes the crossbar! Devastating break!
It just isn't quite happening for the home side in the final third at the moment as another pass from Jonathan dos Santos goes astray. This has been a very strong away performance from Sevilla thus far.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for the home side to register just before the interval as Vietto collects a pass from Jonathan dos Santos before curling one towards goal, but his effort is just wide.
HALF-TIME: Villarreal 0-2 Sevilla
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Sevilla leading 2-0 at El Madrigal courtesy of goals from Vitolo and Mbia. Villarreal have arguably been the better team in general play, but have thus far been unable to make the breakthrough. It has been a super game!
STATS! Villarreal have dominated the possession with 63%, while they have had 13 attempts, but just three of those have been on target. Sevilla, meanwhile, have also only had three attempts on target, but two of those have brought goals. There have also been three bookings following some feisty tackles.
BENCH WATCH! Villarreal boss Marcelino has a couple of attacking options on his bench tonight, with Moreno and Campbell both in reserve. Sevilla, meanwhile, have the likes of Aspas, Bacca, Banega and Reyes on what is a strong-looking bench. Will we see any changes at the interval?
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. Villarreal have to find a way of getting back into this match. It is the hosts that get the second 45 minutes underway.
SUB! Villarreal have made one change at the break, with Campbell replacing Gomez.
Sevilla, however, as expected, are unchanged in terms of personnel from the first period.
Villarreal really need to score at least once in this second period. They cannot afford to go to Sevilla trailing 2-0 from the first leg. It has been a bright start to the half from the hosts, with Vietto again threatening and indeed forcing a corner. One goal for Villarreal would change the atmosphere here.
GOAL! Villarreal 1-2 Sevilla (Vietto)
Scenes here! Sevilla are saying that the referee whistled for a penalty before Vietto scored. However, following a discussion with his linesman, the referee gives the goal. It was a real poacher's finish from the Argentine, who tapped home following a period of pinball inside the box. Good grief!
That has raised the atmosphere inside the stadium. Play to the whistle - the golden rule!
GOAL! Villarreal 1-3 Sevilla (Gameiro)
Good grief! That did not last long! Sevilla score their third of the match as Gameiro finishes past Asenjo after meeting a header from Iborra inside the box. It is raining goals here!
Well, it was 2-0 Sevilla a few minutes ago. Now, the visitors lead 3-1. Some game here!
SENT OFF! Villarreal boss Marcelino has been sent to the stands!
I have a feeling that we have not seen the last of the goals this evening - far from it. Both sides are committing numbers in the final third as the match continues to flow from end-to-end in Spain.
The Sevilla supporters are making their voices heard at the moment, with their team in total control of this tie. A reminder that the second leg will take place at the Estadio Ramon next week. Sevilla are so strong on their own patch and therefore you would have to fancy them from this position.
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last couple of minutes, with the referee forced to intervene due to some late challenges. Neither side is really in control of the possession at the moment.
Villarreal are a little bit ragged at the moment as Sevilla continue to move the ball quickly in the final third. Campbell has a half-chance for the home side after meeting an excellent cross from Costa, but Rico is across his goal to make a really smart save. Can the Yellow Submarine force a second here?
CHANCE! Sevilla come close to scoring a fourth as Vidal slides a wonderful pass into Iborra, who moves past Mario inside the Villarreal box, but his low cross is cleared. Any touch would have taken the ball into the back of the net. Still more than 25 minutes of football remaining in this European tie.
SUB! Sevilla make their first change as Bacca replaces Gameiro.
Villarreal continue to threaten in the final third, but Sevilla have defended very well for long periods of this match. Campbell again strikes one from outside the box, but it is straight into traffic.
BOOKING! Campbell (Villarreal) is booked for a late challenge on Bacca.
SUB! Villarreal make their second change as Moreno replaces Uche.
Cheryshev tries his luck for the home side after finding space outside the box, but his effort was always moving wide of the post. Little over 20 minutes of this European tie remaining here.
Villarreal are in control of the possession at the moment, but they are not really getting anywhere in terms of clear chances, with Sevilla fairly comfortable in defensive areas. As it stands, the visitors would be massive favourites in the second leg next week due to their brilliant home record.
Spain boss Vicente del Bosque is here this evening and must be impressed with Sevilla midfielder Iborra, who has been tipped to make the Spain squad on Friday. He has been such a threat.
CLOSE! Trigueros comes close for Villarreal after combining with Vietto outside the Sevilla box, but his effort was always just moving wide of the post. Excellent feet from the midfielder.
SUB! Sevilla make their second change as Banega replaces Iborra.
The pace of the game has just dropped in the last few moments, which is not much of a surprise. Sevilla are just sitting in and absorbing the pressure. They are happy with their 3-1 lead here.
SUB! Sevilla make their third change as Reyes replaces Vitolo.
Sevilla have the chance to threaten from a free kick in a wide area, but Banega floats one straight out for a goal kick. Little over 10 minutes of football remaining here, Villarreal really need another.
Mbia has been an absolute mountain in the air this evening - at both ends of the field. Villarreal continue to swing balls into the box, but it is fairly straight-forward for Sevilla time and time again.
SUB! Villarreal make their third change as Musacchio is replaced by Dorado.
Sevilla are extremely deep at the moment, but they have enough pace on the counter to really threaten Villarreal, who are just running out of ideas as we approach the final five minutes here.
More frustration for Villarreal as Campbell is penalised for a firm challenge on Reyes deep in the Sevilla half. In truth, not too much is happening in terms of chances at the moment here.
Villarreal have a free kick in the corner this time as Reyes pushes Campbell to the ground...
... Jonathan dos Santos delivers, but again Mbia is on hand to clear. He's had some game.
Half-chance for Sevilla on the counter as Diogo drives to the edge of the Villarreal box, but his effort was always moving wide of the post. The right-back had so much space down that side.
CHANCE! Stunning chance for Vietto to score a second for Villarreal after meeting a cross from the left, but Rico stands up to make a wonderful save, before denying Vietto from the rebound.
We are into the second of three additional minutes here.
BOOKING! Vidal (Sevilla) goes down inside the box, but the referee books the Spaniard for simulation! Mario looked to have clipped the midfielder there. Some call that!
Sevilla are looking for a fourth here as they continue to counter with speed.
FULL-TIME: Villarreal 1-3 Sevilla
So there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with Sevilla running out 3-1 winners at Villarreal in the first leg of their last-16 clash in the Europa League. The second leg at the Estadio Ramon will take place next Thursday. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Good evening!