A magical afternoon at El Madrigal. On 6th January 2011, Yellows fans enjoyed a more than special Epiphany. That afternoon, Villarreal hosted Valencia, their opponents in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey. In the first leg, on 21st December, there was a goalless draw at Mestalla, which left all the excitement to the second leg in Vila-real.
From early before the game, and making the most of the bank holiday in Spain, the El Madrigal stands were full to enjoy the derby in the cup against Valencia. After the 0-0 in the first leg, the Yellows knew they had to beat their opponents to go through to the next round.
Yellows boss Juan Carlos Garrido lined up with the following starting XI: Juan Carlos; Ángel, Gonzalo, Catalá, Capdevila, Cani, Bruno, Valero; Cazorla; Rossi, Marco Ruben.
Valencia, managed by Unai Emery, took to the field with the following lineup: Guaita; Bruno Saltor, Ricardo Costa, Stankevicius, Dealbert, Mathieu; Maduro, Banega, Mata, Joaquín; Soldado.
With the match barely underway, Valencia midfielder Ever Banega powerful shot from more than 25 yards out ended up in the back of the home next, despite Juan Carlos’ best efforts. Valencia were ahead, which meant the Yellows had to score at least two goals to turn the match around. A wake-up call for the Yellows.
In the 22nd minute, Los Che struck once more. Roberto Soldado got on the end of the ball in the box after a long ball from Hedwiges Maduro, finishing with a lot of quality against the home goalkeeper. With less than a quarter of the game gone, Valencia were 0-2 up and it looked like they were in charge of the tie.
During the rest of the first half, the Yellow Submarine tried to hit back, but, surprised by the quick Valencian start, the home side were unable to get on the scoreboard.
With 45 minutes gone, referee Delgado Ferreiro blew up for the teams to go back to the dressing rooms. With the score at 0-2, the game looked over for many. Villarreal needed three goals in 45 minutes to turn the tie around.
Despite it not being an easy situation, the Yellows started the second half quickly, searching for an early goal to cut the distance. The home team’s faith was paid off with a Santi Cazorla goal just a minute after the break. The midfielder fired home a Giuseppe Rossi cross from the left.
The goal from the Yellows woke up the home support, who cheered on their side to try and get the equaliser. Villarreal didn’t step off the accelerator and, only two minutes later, Delgado Ferreira pointed to the penalty spot for a foul on Marco Ruben. From the penalty, Rossi tricked Vicente Guaita to bring the match level.
The comeback was on and Villarreal fans sung ‘Sí, se puede’ (Yes we can) like a chorus at El Madrigal. One the pitch, the Yellows were in complete dominance of the game, not giving their opponents a single chance.
In the 63rd minute, and after a number of minutes of Yellows dominance, a triangle between Cazorla and Cani got through Valencia’s defence. The latter got into the box, and played it back to Marco Ruben, who made it 3-2. El Madrigal erupted, although there was still half an hour left.
Villarreal took control of possession in the final minutes, looking for a counter-attack to kill off the tie. Valencia pushed forward, trying to make it 3-3, which would see them progress to the next round.
In added time, Rossi got the ball on the edge of the box and faced Guaita in a one-on-one. After beating the goalkeeper and facing defenders who had gone onto the line, Il Bambino finished acutely at the near post, scoring the fourth goal and sealing a magic and unforgettable comeback.
In the 2010/11 season, the Yellows, as well as reaching the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, finished fourth in LaLiga and reached the UEFA Europa League semi-finals.