270 minutes. That is the key number.
Villarreal hasn't given up a goal for three games in a row in the league. 2-0 vs Rayo, 0-0 at Espanyol and 1-0 today. Doubled the points tally from 7 to 14 in this span of time and moved above the rapidly fading Real Betis.
Villarreal gave up the flash, once again. Defended resolutely and and created more goal-scoring chances counter-attacking Betis, who looked good in possession in the first two-thirds of the pitch but were toothless in the last-third.
Borja Valero scored off of a precious lob taking advantage of an error by the Betis GK Casto mid-way through the first half. Villarreal had chances to add to that lead but held on to the minimum margin despite Betis upping the ante late in the 2nd half.
Diego López; Mario-Musacchio-Gonzalo-Catalá ;Bruno-Borja Valero; Joan Oriol-De Guzmán-Hernán Pérez ; Marco Ruben.
Casto; Isidoro-Ustaritz-Dorado-Nacho; Cañas-Iriney-Beñat; Pozuelo-Molina-Rubén Castro.
Garrido kept faith in the same eleven that lined-up for the 0-0 draw against Espanyol. There was a subtle change though. 30 seconds into the game, Borja was already in an advanced position, sort of what he did in the second half against Espanyol. Infact he was on level or slightly behind Marco Ruben for most of the first. It resembled some sort of a 4-4-2 for a while.
Pepe Mel also kept faith in the same eleven that lined-up for the 0-0 draw at home against Málaga. Beñat pulling the strings from the midfield support the Pozuela, Molina and Ruben Castro.Iriney saw a lot of the ball and he is a decent player.
Villarreal defended in numbers and were very organized for the most part. The submarine came out with a lot of energy early on and forced a few fouls and free-kicks. Marco Ruben did stellar work playing the targetman providing a reference for both Hernán Pérez and Borja Valero.
The Goal - Min 21
In one of the moves Hernán stole the possession in the midfield and took the ball further up before passing to Ruben who frees Borja Valero. As the keep was off his line trying to close down Ruben, Borja lobbed it imperiously into the far corner of the net.
Betis, who had the upper hand in terms of possession continued to enjoy more possession as Villarreal was content to defend in numbers and look for the counter-attack.
Right after the goal, Ruben Castro had a great chance to equalize but Diego Lopez was up for it and pull of a great save. Diego lopez made another good save in the first half to keep Zaragoza at bay.
Borja was great playing in advanced position. Oriol looked lost on the left midfield position. De Guzman's role was limited to helping out the defence and win the ball deep in Villarreal's half. He seems to have done a decent job in that aspect.
Hernán Pérez was the best player of Villarreal in the first half despite Borja's goal. He was a constant threat on the right flank hustling for the ball when Betis had it and taking on the defenders when he had the ball.
Referee Muñiz Fernandez was whistle happy and showed 4 yellow cards in the first half, two players on each side.
Betis threw more men into the attack in the 2nd half. Pepe Mel brought on couple of Ex-Villarreal players. First Matilla and then Jefferson Montero. Villarreal continued to counter-attack and the introduction of Montero made things difficult for Villarreal and they had the usual cagey moment or two inside their own box. But Betis didn't have many clear chances in the 2nd half.
On the other hand Betis keeper Casto saved a couple of good shots and kept Betis in the game.For Villarreal Borja Valero took over the game as Hernán Pérez faded away a bit and was eventually substituted for Marchena. De Guzman was substituted for the youngster Joselu, who gave a glimpse of what could be if Villarreal played with two upfront. It is quite possible that Ruben might start with Joselu upfront against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, a game in which we have very little to play for.
Borja Valero came off to a standing ovation in the dying moments of the game. He has really stepped up in the last few games. Has been a big part in the comeback act of Villarreal.
A workmanlike win. Three points. Was it pretty? No. Did we play on the counter at home? Yes. This sure tastes better than the 0-3 against Levante or the other losses we had this season.
Man of the Match: Borja Valero. Although I thought Hernán shaded him in the first half, it was all Borja in the second half.
Next opponent: Bayern München at Allianz Arena Tuesday, 22nd November.
Goal - Borja Valero Min 21
Yellow cards Villarreal - Bruno, Marco Ruben, Musacchio, Borja Valero, Diego Lopez
Yellow cards Real Betis - Isidoro, Martin