Europa wins for Villarreal, Bilbao

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Spanish sides Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao both secured valuable Europa League victories on Thursday night.


Villarreal snatched a 2-1 victory at Dinamo Minsk thanks to two late goals from former Spurs man Roberto Soldado.

The best chance of the first half come in the 25th minute, as Dinamo keeper Sergei Ignatovich was forced into a stunner of a save to deny Cedrik Bakambu's header.

After the break, some scrambling in the Villarreal defence managed to keep out Fatos Beqiraj out, as the hosts looked to apply some pressure.

Beqiraj was on hand again in the 69th minute to set up Dinamo's first goal, playing a lovely pass to Maksim Vitus, who fired it into the back of the net from close range.

Dinamo's lead was short-lived, however, with Igor Voronkov conceding a penalty only three minutes later, allowing Soldado to step up and fire home his first of the night.

A draw looked on the cards until the 86th minute when Soldado weaved his way through several defenders before getting off a shot that deflected off a defender and into the goal to secure all three points for the visitors.

The win moves Villarreal into second place in Group E, two points behind leaders Rapid Vienna, while Dinamo Minsk remain without a point from four games.

Later in the evening, Athletic Bilbao thumped Partizan 5-1 at home to go top of Group L.

After a quiet opening 15 minutes, the match suddenly exploded with three goals in the space of four minutes.

Inaki Williams made it 1-0 to the home side after latching onto a pass from Enoke Boveda and firing it past the goalkeeper into the left side.

Partizan equalised almost within minutes, Miroslav Vulicevic teeing up Aboubakar Oumarou, who rolled the ball into the bottom right corner.

The goal deluge didn't stop there as Bilbao headed back to the other end. Aritz Aduriz fed the ball to Williams, who had an easy finish for his second of the night.

Five minutes before the break, Bilbao scored their third, Beñat finding the target from a free kick on the edge of the box.

The Spanish outfit continued to dominate in the second half, and Aduriz added a fourth in the 71st minute, shedding his marker to meet a free kick inside the area and head home.

The Partizan defence continued to struggle, and Aduriz and Elustondo combined nine minutes from time for Bilbao's fifth, the latter having the simplest of finishes in front of an empty net.