And so, Villarreal's wretched record in the Copa del Rey continues. We should have saved two of those goals from our 5-1 victory in the league for today, as it turned out.
Villarreal controlled much of the play, and for the first half-hour seemed to be the team more likely to score, if someone did--but we just weren't clicking when it came to the final pass. Bruno was not up to his usual standard, and without Gio, we didn't have anyone who could cross the ball to Perbet. Jony Pereira buzzed around brightly, Moi Gomez did as well, but there was no real danger being created by all this.
In the 31st minute came the goal that put us out. Chory Castro broke down the left--his centering pass was touched away by a lunging Gabriel right to Xabi Prieto. Juan Carlos stopped his shot, but the ball bounced behind him and Ros poked in the gift. Had he been offside when Prieto took his shot? Marcelino certainly thought so, and you can judge for yourself:
With a goal to defend, La Real allowed the Submarine to pass the ball around, but we just weren't finding any rhythm. Hernán Pérez seemed sluggish on his return from injury, Jony was being snuffed out of things, and we couldn't create many chances. Marcelino brought Aquino on for Hernan with an hour gone, and also replaced Pantic with Mario (I believe this was for injury reasons, as it seemed an odd sub to make otherwise). Immediately the Mexican's speed created some free kicks and corners, and from one of those Musacchio indeed put the ball in the net, but it was waved off for offside.
Uche replaced Moi Gomez shortly afterward, which seemed odd to me as I expected Jony to come off, but it did at least result in Perbet getting a bit more room in the box, and with 20 minutes or so left he headed the ball on target but the goalkeeper saved it.
Villarreal were handed a lifeline with 15 minutes left--Bruno found Uche with a through ball and the Nigerian went down after a tussle in the penalty area with a defender. In real time, and to the referee's eye, it looked a clear penalty, but in reality it was pretty soft--yes, there was contact but Uche went down well after it. Jeremy Pérbet, who had dispatched a penalty comfortably last time he took one, tried to blast the ball into the top corner but missed.
That was about it, though there was one ball cleared off the line by a Sociedad defender and Carlos Vela tried to chip Juan Carlos for a second goal late on but was denied.
FT Villarreal 0-1 Real Sociedad (0-1 aggregate)
For me the only real disappointment, apart from the poor performance overall, was that we could have faced Racing Santander in the next round, so you'd think we could have made it to the semis. Then again, given how many times we've been knocked out by lower-division sides, maybe it's just as well. At least now we can concentrate on the league.
Final thoughts: Gabriel is a great one-on-one defender--he dispossessed Vela and Griezmann in these sorts of challenges late in the game. But he needs to work on positioning and controlling what he does as part of the back four--especially clearing the ball from danger or passing it to a teammate, rather than just poking it away. We've observed that before, and he got caught today.
Juan Carlos will blame himself for the goal, too, and he probably should have smothered the ball better. It wasn't the sort of howler Andrés Fernandez pulled off recently, but he could have blocked the ball more aggressively, as one of our commenters noted.
The referee (Eduardo Iglesias Prieto) was, even by Spanish standards, bad. Possible offside missed, questionable penalty awarded, but more than that he seemed totally lost in open play-- allowing both teams to get away with obvious hard fouls while penalizing touches. And both teams had promising attacks stopped by his refusal to apply the advantage rule. I know it's hard to stay up with the action all the time in a game like this, but he never seemed to be near anything. Plus, he only added three minutes for the substitutions, and there were at least two stoppages for injuries that ought to have added another minute. Oh well.
Hopefully Gio's GI upset is nothing major and we'll have him for Almeria on Sunday. If so, I expect Uche and Gio to start up front, with Perbet coming off the bench in the second half; Manu and Bruno in the pivote, Aquino and Moi on the wings, and Mario/Chechu/Musacchio/Jaume Costa in front of Asenjo. That seems our first-choice XI at the moment.