Emery implores Villarreal to 'enjoy' Champions League semi-finals

By Sports Desk April 12, 2022

Villarreal coach Unai Emery told his side to savour their achievement, after they progressed past Bayern Munich to the Champions League semi-finals with a 1-1 draw on Tuesday.

Coming into the second leg in Munich up 1-0 on aggregate, the Yellow Submarine continued to absorb pressure.

Robert Lewandowski levelled the tie at 1-1, seven minutes into the second half via Thomas Muller's assist, but Samuel Chukwueze put Villarreal through with his goal in the 88th minute.

According to Emery, savouring that achievement must not come as a result of Villarreal's status in comparison to European football's elite, but because of the work it took to get there.

"Let's enjoy the semi-finals, knowing we are here not because of how nice we are, or to let others say we are a nice and small town, but because we've worked for it," Emery told Marca post-match.

"We are professionals, but we also have feelings and today we have played a huge game and for this, a lot had to do with all the good we did in the first leg.

"It was essential to play a perfect game defensively, because against opponents of this level it is the only way to progress. We knew that we were going to have five moments throughout the match and we took advantage of one, thanks to the fact we have approached the tie with humility."

The Europa League holders approached Bayern in the same manner that saw them through Juventus in the last-16, keeping shape and playing in transition, while trying to restrict Bayern to low quality opportunities.

It worked again in the second leg, with Bayern particularly managing a cumulative xG of 1.06 despite 15 shots in the second half, compared to Villarreal's 0.64 from only two attempts.

It mattered little to Raul Albiol, who had to mark Lewandowski, saying extra time might have been a bridge too far.

"It's been a long 90 minutes and we didn't want extra time because it would have been too much suffering against an opponent with strikers of a very high level, who have forced us to be very focused, although they have scored a goal off a half-chance," Albiol told Movistar+ post-match.

"It is a success for a town, a club, a board, a team and all of Spanish football. It has been very nice and it has shown, as we did last year in the Europa League, that we compete very well. Work and passion are fundamental."

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