So close yet so far. It felt like Villarreal had the game in the pocket for almost all of the 2nd half. Racing looked defeated, ran out of ideas. They threw in more forwards in search of a goal. Villarreal had quite a few chances to kill-off the game. They didn't. Racing equalized in the 94th minute. Deja vu. The ecstasy of beating Málaga in the 94th minute feels like ages ago. The bitter taste of dropping two points in the 94th minute against a team which is still 10 points off from safety will linger on until the next good result.
In the grand scheme of things, 4 points out of 6 vs Málaga and Racing is probably along the lines what Villarreal could have hoped for on the eve of the Málaga game. As it happens often, it is not the result itself but the manner of in which it is achieved that effects the intangibles like psyche of the players and coaching staff.
Villarreal: Senna got a well deserved rest. Carlos Marchena got a rare start in his place. H.Pérez got a deserved start after his late game heroics against Málaga.
Villarreal(4-2-2-2): D. López; Ángel, Zapata, Musacchio, Catalá; Marchena, Bruno; Borja, H. Pérez; Martinuccio, Nilmar.
Racing (4-2-3-1): Mario; Francis, Álvaro, Torrejón, Cisma; Diop, Colsa; Luque, Munitis, Adrián; Stuani.
Although it seemed like a typical 4-2-2-2 for Villarreal, it seemed a lot like 4-3-1-2 for most of the first half. Martinuccio clearly played like an 'enganche' behind Nilmar & Pérez. Pérez spent a lot of time on the left side of the pitch despite being a right-winger.
Neither team got going particularly well in the first 15-20 minutes. As Sid pointed out in the preview, the only credible threat of Racing is set-pieces. Villarreal started to take control of the game around minute 20. But Racing has won quite a few corners/free-kicks in the first half. They rarely troubled Diego Lopez thanks to either terribl service or an atrocious first touch or both of the Racing players.
Min 22 : #AnimoRossi
Nice gesture from the crowd to applaud in support of Rossi who has a reccurence of the ACL on Friday. Rossi was present in the stands watching his teammates play.
Min 32 Nice move by Martinuccio, gets to the byline and crosses back, Nilmar's shot from an acute angle, blocked for a corner. Probably the clearest chance in all of the first half. The move was started by an excellent between the lines pass from Marchena.
As the 1st half wound down, Villarreal was seeing more of the ball but their poor final passes were letting them down.
A just scoreline considering the play of the two teams. I personally felt we had the right XI on the pitch but not quite playing the right way score. Defensively Villarreal looked solid and the much-maligned Marchena was having a pretty good game.
Lotina made a few adjustments. Most notably switching Hernán Pérez to his natural position on wide-right. The results were instant. A period of sustained possession for Villarreal culminated in a move that started from Catala on the left laying off to Marchena who passed it to Borja. Borja cut in from the left and placed an inch-perfect pass to Hernán Pérez who cut in from the right into the box. Hernán made no mistake to beat Mario on the near post from close range.
Min 46: 1-0 Villarreal
The goal lifted the team as well as the tense crowd. Villarreal went on to play better. The work-rate of Martinuccio and Hernán Pérez was tremendous. They were pressing Racing in the final third for long stretches of the 2nd half. We have rarely seen that type of pressure defence from our forwards this season.
Lotina ringed in the changes as th half progressed. Camuñas came in for Martinuccio and Senna for Marchena. Both Martinuccio and Marchena got a nice round of applause for their good games.
Villarreal continued to create chances but couldn't finish. Racing threw in more players upfront but to no avail. Nilmar had a shot parried away and Bruno missed wide late in the game.
Just when it looked like the game is about to end 1-0, Acosta who came on as a 2nd half substitute found himself all alone at the receiving end of a cross in the Villarreal box, headed home with about 20 seconds left in the added time.
1-1 FT Acosta 90+4th minute.
- Goals : Hernán Pérez Min 46
- Yellow cards : Borja Valero 26th min, Hernán Pérez 89th min
- Goals : Acosta Min 90+4
- Yellow cards : Colsa 62nd min, Diop 83rd min
2 valuable points lost. Zaragoza defeated Granada so we are just 5 points away from relegation. Ironically enough, Granada's defeat meant we are level on points with them and are above them on the table on head-to-head record. Next weekend's game at Anoeta vs Real Sociedad will be another final. A win would be ideal but a point is an absolute must.