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It took a while, but in the end the better team triumphed as Villarreal defeated Córdoba 2-0.
Villarreal came away with a 2-0 win today at El Madrigal against a Córdoba side who looked second-best for most of the match. Nonetheless, manager Julio Velázquez must remain concerned at our failure to translate clear dominance (and clear chances) into goals. But make no mistake, this was a crucial three points at home and Villarreal deserved them.
As early as the fourth minute Villarreal could have been ahead, but Jaume Costa's grass-cutter just went wide of the far post with Córdoba keeper Alberto beaten. But though the Submarine forced a number of chances, a goal just would not come.
Fernando Cavenaghi had a promising one-on-one called back through a linesman's flag for offside when he clearly wasn't; he later wasted two promising chances, the first another one-on-one with the keeper where instead of hitting the ball hard and low he tried a chip--and since he telegraphed his intentions, the keeper was equal to it.
Villarreal were winning the ball back quickly in midfield and had much more width to their attack than formerly, but the finish just wasn't there. Cavenaghi seemed off his game, and though Gerard Bordas and Rubén Cani worked hard to win the ball back, they just were not able to make the killer passes that were needed to break down the Córdoba defense.
HT Villarreal 0-0 Córdoba
My stream was mostly useless for the first fifteen minutes or so of this half, so I can't say much about it except Cavenaghi overhit a pass to put Hernán Pérez through, and shortly afterward Manu Trigueros came in, Cavenaghi departing and Walter Pandiani replacing Bordas. in between, Joan Oriol and López Silva squared off following a tasty challenge along the touchline, and both got red cards.
10-on-10 seemed to favor Córdoba, because they did see more possession in midfield, but didn't do much with it. Villarreal could have taken the lead (yet again) when Pandiani's shot was parried by Alberto--not a great finish from El Rifle, who was falling back as he shot it.
As we moved into the final 15 minutes, it sure looked like for all of Villarreal's huffing and puffing, Córdoba might be able to hold out for a point, but Alberto made a mess of Pandiani's low shot on target from just inside the area. He parried the rebound goalward while falling over and taking himself out of the play, and Hernán, following up, scored the easiest goal he'll ever register for Villarreal.
Córdoba threw on attacker Patiño for defender Kiko Olivas, but only succeeded in fouling Juan Carlos on a couple of free kicks. And in the 90th minute, Mario Gaspar stole the ball form a Cordoba defender and slipped Ikechukwu Uche through, and the Nigerian slotted home through Alberto's legs.
FT Villarreal 2-0 Córdoba
A crucial three points, and a much better effort from the Submarine than in Las Palmas. Going in to this one we thought the visitors might not offer much offense, and we were right; Coach Velázquez has to be happy that we played with nice pace and created a number of shots, but Cavenaghi had an off-day and Cani did little. Hernán played especially well, Mateo Musacchio and Olof Mellberg had little to do, Juan Carlos came off his line when needed and controlled things.
Pandiani came off for Uche becuse of a muscle pull, which hopefully isn't serious; Trigueros looked fine, and hopefully Marcos Senna will be back next Sunday. ENDAVANT!!