Villarreal added what could amount to a famous victory in Bilbao today, if the standings continue to tighten, as they came from a 1-0 deficit to overcome the Zurigorri 1-2. Villarreal started with Diego Lopez in goal, with Angel, Gonzalo, Godin and Capdevila in the back. The midfield was handled by Cani, Eguren, Senna and Mati Fernandez, and Guille and Nihat started up front.
Villarreal began the match completely wrong-footed as they gave up an early smash to Fernando Llorente. Throughout the first half the Yellows were the inferior club. They were not working as a coherent unit, much less the third-placed team in La Liga de las Estrellas.
Pelligrini put a charge into the lot during the break, though, and Villarreal came out a different team in the second half. For the first twenty minutes, the Yellow Submarine was not able to tie the match, and it began to feel like they were destined to drop points again on a weekend that was made for putting distance between them and the challengers for the third and fourth CL spots. Finally in the 64th minute, Guille Franco managed to bring a ray of light to the proceedings, and his strong right-footed drive into the bottom-right corner of the net brought the match even.
After Villarreal tied the match, Tomasson came on for Nihat, and Cazorla was substituted in place of Matigol. The match continued to moved towards endtime, but Villarreal seemed to have gained the advantage, and finally began to put a scare into the Basque side. The Valencians brought the momentum to fruition in the 82nd, when Joan Capdevila knocked in the winning goal. With five minutes of extra time looming, Bruno was brought on for Franco, who had played a stellar match, to shore up the defensive front against Bilbao's last push.
At the death, Diego Lopez saved a shot aiming to halve the points, and thus put Villarreal three points further ahead of Atletico, Sevilla and Espanyol. Atletico fell 3-1 to Osasuna on the afternoon, and Espanyol was throttled by Deportivo, 2-0.
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After the Barcelona and Madrid matches concluded, the top seven in La Liga were:
- Real Madrid - 56 pts.
- Barcelona - 54 pts.
- Villarreal - 46 pts.
- Atletico Madrid - 41 pts.
- Sevilla - 39 pts.
- Espanyol - 39 pts.
- Racing Santander - 38 pts.
Villarreal now will take on Osasuna next Sunday at 1ET in El Madrigal next weekend, another match that should be considered a must-win. Direct rivals Atletico take on Barcelona, Sevilla travel to Deportivo, and Espanyol host Valencia.