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BARCELONA, April 24 (Reuters) - Stephane MBia and Carlos Bacca were on target for Sevilla as they took a big step towards reaching the Europa League final with a 2-0 victory over Valencia on Thursday.
The Andalusian side continued their good form which has seen them win nine of their last 10 La Liga games as they took advantage of Valencia's defensive weaknesses to put themselves in the driving seat in the all-Spanish semi-final.
After a frantic start to the game MBia knocked in the opening goal on the half hour mark and then Bacca added another shortly afterwards as he used his pace to get clear before finishing clinically.
"It was a good game from us against a strong rival in Valencia but despite this result it is still going to be difficult there," Bacca told reporters.
"One of the most important things was to make sure we didn't concede a goal. We could have got a third but they also did well themselves. The game in Valencia is going to be like a final which anyone would want to play."
Sevilla's strong form in the second half of the season, which has seen them climb to fifth in La Liga, has been largely down to their solidity in defence and midfield.
However, they lacked composure at the back in the opening exchanges as both sides attacked at will.
Valencia had chances before MBia grabbed the opening goal as the hosts took advantage of a visiting side missing several central defenders, including first-choice Ricardo Costa.
Ivan Rakatic's free kick was nodded on by Daniel Carrico to MBia, on loan from English Championship side Queens Park Rangers, who back-heeled the ball past goalkeeper Vicente Guaita despite appearing to be in an offside position.
The visitors were still gathering themselves from that blow when, within three minutes, Bacca doubled their advantage, bursting through the heart of the Valencia defence.
Valencia came close to reducing the arrears when an Edu Vargas shot curled just wide of the post midway through the second half and then in the final moments he hit the crossbar, but they now have it all to do at the Mestalla next week. (Reporting by Martyn Herman)