Diego López, Mario, Musacchio, Marchena, Catalá, Bruno, Matilla, Wakaso, Cazorla, Nilmar and Ruben.
Varas, Caceres, Fazio, Escude, Navarro, Zokora, Rakitic, Perotti, Capel, Rodri, Negredo.
It was a makeshift lineup for Villarreal, missing a number of regular starters who were relegated to the bench to rest for the Porto match on Thursday. And although Villarreal had a couple of chances in the opening minutes, things got off to a fairly makeshift start from the beginning.
After a few bright minutes from Villarreal to start the match (and those were perhaps only "bright" in comparison to the rest of the half for the Yellow Submarine), it was a yellow for Musacchio in the 7th, which is not good for a team that is lacking in defensive depth. The foul was in a dangerous position, and the resulting free kick was one of the easier goals Sevilla has ever seen. Rakitic put the shot in with a line-drive, and the very short wall was absolutely worthless. The ball went right over Ruben, the shortest guy in the wall, and Diego López was caught flat footed.. Admittedly, though, it was truly a rocket of a shot. We had no chance there.
In the 14th, it was more of the same, at least when it came to the side scoring. Negredo was sent though with a lob over the top, and he easily overpowered Catalá. With Marchena out of place on the backside, perhaps too accustomed to his recent role in midfield, and Catalá unable to hold his position, Negredo's lob easily made it 2-0. Things were not looking good for Villarreal.
In the 24th, Villarreal finally had a decent chance, but Ruben was correctly ruled offsides. No one for Villarreal was looking good, to say the least. The midfield was severly lacking with Matilla not bringing much magic. Bruno was holding his own, but he couldn't do much by himself. Wakaso and Cazorla played bit parts, but neither could help with any possession.
Beginning a bit after the 25th minute, Villarreal finally began to turn things around. Nilmar began to really get into the match in about the 28th minute, as he dropped back behind Ruben to be involved more in the buildup. He managed to find himself free a number of times and set up quick one-twos with Cazorla.
In the 29th, it perhaps should have been a penalty, as Musacchio got beat by Negredo, but Negredo worked for the penalty, putting himself right in front of Musacchio and going down, while not going for the ball. He was denied, regardless of whether a penalty was deserved.
In the 31st, Nilmar forced a tremdndous save from Sevilla's keeper after a through ball from Cazorla set him one-on-one and Nilmar was able to beat the only defender. The next 15 minutes saw Villarreal continue to gain the momentum as their possesison numbers picked up. Nilmar continued to be involved, as did Cazorla. Wakaso was beginning to see some results from his total effort.
Villarreal almost saw some daylight as a result of their improving form as the half wore down, and in the 45th, Ruben was sent clear. He beat Varas with a well-placed shot, but due to his angle he got no power on the shot, and as the ball rolled toward's the goal, Sevilla's defense recovered and cleared the ball.
With that chance for Ruben, half-time was called. It was an ugly half, unfortunately demonstrative of a lot of Villarreal's play as of late. The club must be questioning itself as it prepares for Thursday's match in Portugal. If this is how Villarreal plays on the road, they cannot expect to pass through against a great offensive side like Porto. The one glimpse of hope was that the team seemed to regain a bit of its confidence in the latter stages of the half. Mostly through the play of Cazorla and Nilmar, the side began to suggest that they would not be pushed around for the entirety of the match.
No changes for Villarreal to start the half. In the first minutes, Villarreal looked like they were going to just concede. If the first possession was indicative of the rest of the match - a stand-still, no-shape group on the field, without any real idea of looking for an opening, content to just hold the ball for a few seconds. Not pretty.
Things could have gone from bad to worse, but in the 52nd, Musacchio was a hero. Negredo (I think) was through for Sevilla, with no one but the keeper to beat, but Musacchio beat him back - thee first time he beat anyone all day - and took the ball away before a shot could be taken.
On the other end, Villarreal recovered the form from the tail end of the first half and had a couple of chances. It was finally Wakaso who got the shot, but characteristically, it was woefully off goal.
In the 54th, Rossi came on for Nilmar, thus keeping them both reasonably rested for Thursday's big match. Villarreal were hoping that Rossi might hold the key to Sevilla's back line. Villarreal had admittedly taken the better of the match as the second half got underway, but only barely. The yellow club could get into the final third, but they would regularly run into a bit of a wall, not getting any real shots off. As things began to turn in Villarreal's favor, Cazorla was the key, winning possession all over the pitch and forcing the ball into the final third.
In the 55th, Wakaso got an absolutely blistering shot on goal, and it was only a huge save from Varas that kept Villarreal off the scoreboard. I guess that shows, eventually, anything will work! And in the 56th, after significant pressure from Villarreal, it was MARCHENA of all people who broke Villarreal's inability to score. After the ball was recovered following a cleared corner, he drilled the ball past Varas. 2-1. Of course, my feed broke down right at that moment!
Sevilla responded by bringing Romaric on for Rodri, pushing a harder, more defensive shape onto the pitch. Villarreal kept the pressure up in the 61st. A foul on Rossi gave the club an excellent free kick opportunity, and Cazorla nearly followed through, hitting the outside of the post with his shot.
But then, completely against the run of play, it seemed the match was over. Despite all of Villarreal's possession and pressure in the second half, Romaric immediately made an impact. With perhaps his first touch of the ball, he beat an insanely out of position Musacchio, setting himself up with the first touch and drilling the ball past a helpless López.
The Penalty That Wasn't
In the 65th, Ruben was horribly taken down in the box, and yet no penalty! In an amazing no-call, Villarreal's best chance to recover and find itself back into the match was taken away by an official who simply has not been paying attention today. Not to mention, Ruben was then kicked in the head by Varas while on the pitch, bringing blood. Not good.
Villarreal brought Cani on for an ineffective Musacchioi the 67th, desparate for something from this match. It seemed at that point that Villarreal really would strive for at least a point. Oh, and then Cicinho came on for Ruben, suggesting that Villarreal had, in fact, given up.
Villarreal continued to press, but it was clear that there was no heart in it. Well, maybe not no heart, but no expectation of anything. Oh, and then Rossi with a GOLAZO, and suddenly hope reigned! Rossi sent a slightly-curling shot easily into the side of goal with his left foot, and suddenly Villarreal were back in the match.
Minutes later, Cazorla had a great shot saved by Varas. And then in the 76th, Rossi beat everyone, only to see his shot skip off the inside of the post. If posts and should-have-been penalties were goals, Villarreal would have had a comfortable lead by this point.
And then emotions boiled over after Villarreal played on past a splayed Sevilla player. Perotti continued to harass the Undiano Mallenco, and Marchena got in his face. A push from Marchena, and returns from Romaric, and next thing you know benches were cleared. Eventually yellows for Romaric and Marchena were the result. Replays showed that the Sevilla player on the ground - the reason Perotti was upset - earned his spot on the pitch when he tried to hold Rossi back from the break and Rossi rightfully pushed him away, apparently catching him in the mouth. Considering all of Sevilla's diving throughout the match, Villarreal were in the right ignoring him.
The last ten minutes continued to be scintillating, with Rossi and Cazorla wrecking havoc in Sevilla's back line. But in the 85th, things finally looked to be over as Marchena picked up his second yellow, and headed off the pitch with hardly a peep. It was clearly yellow-worthy, and it was a classy move not to argue, especially when put in the light of Sevilla's ridiculous antics - arguing and flopping - throughout the match (the best of their antics were to come in extra time). But that red card meant that Villarreal were down to 10 men, and the match was truly over.
Villarreal did not give up, but they couldn't break through over the next few minutes. Admirably they tried, pushing forward with 10 men. The lack of men clearly brought problems, though, and in the 91st, Sevilla could have put it away, but Negredo's looping shot on the break went wide.
Now into extra time, Sevilla as an entire organization continued to show its "great class" on the resulting goal kick, as ball after ball was tossed on the pitch as a time wasting measure. Not only that, the ball boy intentionally knocked the ball away from Diego López. Eventually, the official, Mallenco, had to speak to Sevilla's management to get the extra ball crap to stop. [While I did not put much of it into this recap, Sevilla demonstrated galling sportsmanship throughout the match, spending half of the match on the pitch from phantom fouls. Unfortunately from a side with the skill level of Sevilla, their rightly-earned reputation is that they are simply a bunch of cheaters. Poor, poor form.]
Sevilla nearly again put the match away on a truly screwed up play in the 94th. An exhausted Villarreal could not keep up with Sevilla's counter, and López was pulled way out of his goal to try and break it up. He was late getting there, but miraculously the gaping goal was ably defended by Bruno, stopping the shot that would have put the match away once and for all.
Undiano Mallenco shockingly called the match just after the announced 5 minutes of extra time, despite the following during extra time: a substitution, a near-brawl on the pitch, a yellow or two, and countless extra balls thrown on the pitch, for which the official had to actually go and talk to Sevilla officials. All in all, such a decision was fairly typical of the referee for the match.
Villarreal fought back tremendously, but were denied in the end. If not for some great saves by Varas, a non-call on a penalty rightfully earned by Ruben, and a couple of shots that went off the post, Villarreal could have at least been content with a draw. As is, they are going to have to take the moral victory, knowing that the second half they played today was some of the best ball they have played in a few weeks. They need to carry all of that momentum into Thursday's away match against Porto if they are going to have any sort of chance to fight for the Europa title on May 18th.