Joseba Llorente had perhaps the night of his futbol life. Coming on in the second half, after Villarreal had by all accounts been dominated in the first half, Llorente brought life to a mediocre Villarreal side. But Llorente, for all his worth, simply highlights the superb management by Pellegrini. Pellegrini's substitutions - as well, evidently, as his halftime thrashing - were perfect. He was able to pick out the weaknesses - Edmilson's continuing injury woes, Franco's decided lack of finishing touch, and Mati's unfortunate inability to step up and be the magician he could have been - and find the exact parts to insert to make the sub whole again. Of course, as I say this, the choice of pairing Fuentes with Gonzalo is clearly not the best idea.
Aalborg Boldspilklub came out the better side, stunning the El Madrigal crowd with Marek Saganowski's 19th minute goal. Giuseppe Rossi scored the equaliser in the 28th after being set up by a Cazorla - Angel connection. It was only seconds it seemed before Capdevila scored a "stunning" right-footed blast (if anyone finds the highlight before I do, PLEASE send it along!). But the one-goal lead could not hold up, as just minutes later Thomas Enevoldsen levelled for the Danes. And so, the first half ended with Villarreal feeling a bit off-kilter, and the Danish side surely feeling great.
Llorente came on for Guille at the half, and from there, the history was written. It took 22 minutes, but Llorente started his scoring strut after Zaza could not gather a Senna shot in the 67th. Just three minutes later, supersub Pires moved down the right and centered for Llorente to find his second.
Villarreal must have then felt somewhat comfortable with a two-goal advantage with just 20 minutes remaining. But it was not to last. Andreas Johansson's head found the back of the net, and the game was quickly back on. Pires, though, was not through, and two minutes after AaB had brought it within one, he put it away after gathering a rebounded Cazorla shot. In the 85th, Capdevila continued his up (offensively) and down (defensively) night, finding Llorente who dropped in his hat, getting to the final 6-3 scoreline.
So, what have we learned here? Villarreal do have an offense! I have to say, seeing a team, even lowly Aalborg, knock in three goals is a little disappointing, but it is not the biggest deal in the world, considering we all know how strong Villarreal's defense can be. If we are going to choose a night to lay down defensively, it may as well be on a night when the other team has to pull the ball out of the net an amazing six times!
Villarreal now sit tied atop the group, alongside Man United, with 7 points, still technically in second place in the group because of goal differential. But, with Celtic and Aalborg still drowning at one point a piece, Villarreal are virtually assured of advancing into the knockout stages. Endevant Villarreal!