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Conrado Valle | 22/11/2012
In Helsingborg this evening, Levante added another unforgettable chapter to their history. Their debut in a continental competition will take them further than the group stage. They could even qualify for the next phase as winners of their group if they beat Hannover in the last round of fixtures.
Today is one of those days when it's worth remembering where Levante were three years ago: fighting it out in the Segunda División, embroiled in creditors' squabbles and looking over the edge into the abyss as a club. Today they're fourth in the Liga and have booked their place amongst the last 32 in the Europa League. And they did it with class, and without wavering. With a 1-3 win in Sweden and a match controlled from start to finish.
The team from Valencia only needed seven minutes to show what they were capable of and take advantage of Helsingborgs' deficiencies. Rubén turned the Swedes' playground giveaway into a lethal blow, with an inch-perfect ball to Ángel and poise and patience from the forward.
The Europa League isn't only giving the Spanish club added prestige and financial benefits. It's also giving Juan Ignacio the chance to keep all of his squad motivated, and share out the minutes and the workload. The coach once again opted for rotations. Ballesteros, Diop and Iborra were the only regulars that featured, although none of the others let the side down. Quite the opposite.
Michel showed again this evening that he adds quality to Levante's attacking play. As an example of that was the second goal, scored by Diop. The midfielder took four Helsingborg defenders with him before turning on himself and picking out Pedro Ríos, who put the perfect cross in to Diop. The Swedish players were left chasing the ball without knowing where they were.
Keylor Navos was almost another spectator. Although when the goalkeeper was called upon, he delivered the goods. Levante's dominance was such that he was only tested on three occasions. In the first, he produced a reflex save from a header, and later he came out on top in two one-on-ones by going to ground at the right moment. The Swedish side looked limp in attack, and only when the game was all but over did they find a bit of fluidity and a goal courtesy of Sorum. But by then, Iborra had scored the third one for 'la granota'. The dream continues...