Things started off poorly for Villarreal, but I wasn’t there to see the beginning, so I cannot say very much about the apparent wonder goal that José Antonio Reyes scored in the 5th minute. The early goal was a bad omen for Villarreal in the tepidly loud Vicente Calderón. They have not been playing well on the whole lately, and having to come from behind only makes it more difficult.
Early on, Atlético had the upper hand, continuing to press high. In the 21st minute, it was only some last-minute defending from Musacchio that managed to prevent a great opportunity for Reyes, the golazo-maker who put Atlético in front. The Madrid side had the Yellow Submarine on the back foot, and Villarreal had very few answers.
The game was tame, with both sides trying to build up a bit of play, but putting forth a fairly miserable result. In the 32nd minute, Nilmar was fouled just outside the box, setting up a dangerous free kick for Villarreal. And then Rossi, taking the free kick indirectly from a Cazorla tap, drilled the ball past De Gea, leveling the score at 1-1. It wasn’t necessarily a perfectly deserved scoreline, but Rossi’s goal was a firecracker, and De Gea had no chance at all. Under most circumstances, Villarreal would have responded with a surge of confidence. But a minute later, Atlético was wrongly called offside. They fired home anyway, but the called-off goal was of the type that Atlético fans surely would look at if the match did not turn out the way they wanted.
Neither side was able to produce anything worthwhile the rest of the half, although arguably Atlético had the more dangerous chances. The teams retired to their locker rooms without either side looking to have the fire needed to put three points in their column.
To start the second half, Villarreal was completely off key and incredibly lucky to have an Atlético goal called back. That was going to become a theme. This time, Forlán was just offsides, and although he cleanly beat Diego López, it wasn’t to be, and Villarreal lived to fight for a few more minutes. The pressure didn’t hold off, though, and in the 50th minute, Gonzalo made a terrific tackle to stop a charging Sergio Aguero.
Villarreal did have an early chance themselves, when in the 51st minute, a long pass found Nilmar free past his defender. He tried a one-touch shot, but he had a difficult angle, and his first touch let him down.
Cani managed to pick up a yellow card in the 52nd minute, and a minute later, Cazorla perhaps should have, but got off easy, as he put a boot in the chest of an Atlético striker. From the resulting free kick, Reyes continued his impressive day, sending the ball just over the bar with a laser.
Reyes took a heavy boot to Gonzalo in the 56th minute, and the yellow cards in the second half evened back up. But still Villarreal couldn’t relieve the pressure and was happy to see Aguero called offsides a minute later. Things just about fell apart in the 63rd minute, as no one quite knew what was going on, with the ball zipping through the Villarreal back line, but some incredible goalkeeping from Diego López saved the day twice - one of those times well outside the box.
The game had taken on a breathtaking pace, back and forth, with opportunities for both teams. Forlán sent a fireball at Diego López in the 65th minute, but the Spanish international continued to have an excellent match and handled things coolly. But the real story was that the chances were opening up, and as of the 65th minute, it felt like a goal was coming in the next few minutes- unfortunately, it looked like it would be for Atlético.
On a side note, the cameras caught the younger Garrido on the phone, presumably making illegal communications with his brother. Hopefully that won’t come back to haunt us!
And there it was, with Aguero chipping López in the 69th minute. Villarreal was down and possibly out. It wasn’t unexpected, and it was a fairly spectacular goal. Musacchio was all over Aguero, but there was nothing the Argentine defender could do against his countryman.
Villarreal hoped to answer, and Ruben came on in the 71st minute. The club switched to a 4-3-3 in an attempt to pull something out of the match, but it was for naught. A minute later, it was over, as Forlán put it away for the home side. The back line failed the club again, as it had been doing over and over on the evening. Another lost opportunity for the club.
Inexplicably, after the third goal, it was pretty clear that Villarreal was no longer pressing for the points; yet, rather than remove the likes of Borja, Bruno, and Cazorla, they left everyone in- a waste of resources. It was demonstrative of Villarreal’s match. They came in, and with every opportunity to take the points, it really felt like they just didn’t care all that much. For the most part, the fault lies with the defensive back four. They were a sieve throughout the night, putting unfair pressure on Diego López- a guy who, despite giving up three goals, had a remarkable match.
Garrido will be back on the sidelines for the next match. Hopefully he has had a little time to think up some new ideas during his suspension.