Villarreal went behind within two minutes but in the end ran out comfortable 3-1 winners before a crowd of just over 12,000 at Brighton's AMEX Stadium. The home side was gifted an early lead thanks to a Mario Gaspar error, and new keeper Asenjo had to make two fine saves in the first five minutes as well.
After that, Villarreal took over the game; Jony Pereira hit a crossbar, several other opportunities produced fine saves, but Cani equalized just before halftime. Midway through the second half, goals from Jony and Pedro Rios, with Perbet and Aquino providing the assists, gave Villarreal a comfortable 3-1 win.
Brighton manager Oscar Garcia said afterward he was still learning about his side, thought they played very well for the first 30 minutes but after that Villarreal's quality made the difference. Marcelino, for his part, said Villarreal were still making the same mistakes as in their first two games, but there result was more positive and in general we were on the right track.
Takeaways for me from listening to the match on radio:
(1) yes, we are playing more of a possession game than last year, and in this game we generated a lot of chances from that possession.
(2)That said, we need to put away more of those chances. Perbet made a delightful little back-heel to set up Jony's goal, but the Frenchman needs to get on the scoresheet himself. Still, a front four of Perbet, Pereira, Uche and Gio dos Santos seems pretty good.
(3) Cani deserved the first-half goal; he was probably our best player in the half. In the second, we wore down Brighton with possession and I'd probably pick Jony as the man of that half.
(4) Hernan Perez played 45 minutes--obviously still getting his playing legs under him after missing the last half of the 2012-13 season. He forced one fine save from Kuszczak.
(5) Fine debut for Sergio Asenjo in goal; he was called on to make an immediate 1-on-1 save, made another fine save early on, and couldn't be blamed for the goal. On the other hand...
(6) As Marcelino said, we continue to make defensive errors. This time it was Mario Gaspar, but let's not forget we have been playing so far with only two center backs, 22 and 21 years of age. While we hope Chechu Dorado returns and stays healthy, we desperately need to sign a center back, and we should have enough money to sign a good, experienced one. We really need a "field marshal" in defense.
(7) Manu Trigueros impressed today; he started in the doble pivote with Bruno, and continued with Pina in the second half.
(8) Pedro Rios continues to perform well, so I'd expect us to find a club in the Segunda to take Moi on loan for next season.
(9) Finally, full credit to the Brighton supporters. An impeccably observed moment of silence for the Santiago train victims (I thought my Radio Vila-real feed had cut out, it was so quiet), and over 12,000 in attendance. Some Villarreal fans in that number, and who knows, we may have picked up a few more fans after today. Endavant!