It was not easy--but then, this team never makes anything easy does it? But in the end Villarreal earned three vital points in La Liga, defeating Getafe 2-1 at El Madrigal to maintain an eight-point advantage over both Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, with four games remaining in the season.
Getafe started off pressing Villarreal high up the pitch, looking to take advantage of our fragile, inexperienced back four. When the yellow Submarine got the ball up the pitch Nilmar was quite active and looking for the ball. Rossi narrowly missed a goal with a rolled free kick from distance--a training-ground play that almost worked-- and Cazorla put a shot narrowly over after a corner kick. Early on Cazorla, Cani and Borja were all steaming forward and Getafe was content to hoof the ball forward in search of Manu when they picked it up.
But then, Getafe started to run things. Torres forced a fine save from Lopez, then at the other end Nilmar crossed for Rossi but both he and the defender missed the ball. The game was beginning to open up, though neither keeper was yet having to do a great deal--Villarreal's passes just weren't quite clicking, and when Mané put a strong cross into the box at the other end Sardinero couldn't make contact.
As the game became more open, Villarreal's slowness in defense started to show. Parejo hit a shot well over the bar after Lopez palmed away a strong shot. And after Villarreal made a hash of a free kick at the other end, Miku ran past (actually around!) Kiko Olivas and found himself one-on-one with Diego López, but the keeper made a strong save. Whew.
But in the 31st minute, the impending disaster was realized. Our defense backed up to the 18-yard box rather than try to slow down the flying Burger King-sponsored attack, and Pedro Rios whipped a screamer of a goal into the top of the net. López had no chance, and the Villarreal defenders look like they were all blaming each other. Bad body language.
The Submarine tried to get started in attack, but just couldn't get anything to come off. Either players tried to do too much, or Getafe had enough men behind the ball that the final pass just wasn't coming off. Villarreal didn't force a save from Ustari until Borja stroked a lovely shot that the keeper did well to save.
Mario Gaspar was constantly finding room down the right, and his poorly-cleared cross preceded that chance, but as we all know attacking is not the best part of his game. And Rossi and Nilmar were having trouble connecting, too--Nilmar was dropping deeper to pick up the ball, as he had done against Porto, but this time there were more men ahead of him and he was being crowded out. Villarreal at this stage was 45 minutes away from bidding their Champions League dreams for next year goodbye.
HT Villarreal 0-1 Getafe
Would we see changes from Garrido at halftime? We looked flat, I was so desperate for a change I seriously entertained bringing Cicinho on for Mario to see if he could cross the ball better. We know he doesn't play much defense anyway. If Garrido had that thought, he wisely ignored it.
Villarreal started the second half decently enough, creating moderate pressure and forcing Getafe to commit some fouls. Capdevila is being pushed forward in this half, and this tactic nearly works. He crosses, Nilmar heads down, but Rossi can't get to it before the keeper does. It's starting to look like a goal will come, though, because Villarreal is much more assured. It looks like Santi is going to open our account, but Ustari makes a fine fingertip save after a neat passing sequence which Cazorla started.
Villarreal continue to attack, Getafe hanging on both figuratively and literally at times--there's a good deal of shirt-tugging going on in midfield. Another attack saw the ball bouncing around the area, but no Villarreal player could quite direct it. The referee, who had been pretty decent to this point, playing the advantage rule more than most, allowing the game to flow, now gives yellow cards to various people for various things, none serious. Immediately after all this kerfluffle Casquero, who had just been booked for dissent, takes Borja down on the edge of the area with a clumsy challenge that had no hope of success.
Borja is on the ground, the Villarreal players appear to be wondering why no card is coming out, and Getafe players are frankly not doing much of anything other than watch Casquero plead his innocence as they drift slowly back to set up a wall for the free kick. But none of that matters, because sneaky, mischevous Santi Cazorla kicks the ball out sideways to Cani, who puts a marvelous shot just inside the post and past the lunge of the despairing Ustari. Half an hour to go and it's 1-1!
At this point, Villarreal sensed they could win this, as first a free kick pinged dangerously around inside the Getafe box and then Rossi shot just wide of the far post after being put through by Nilmar--the defender (was that our old boy Marcano?) just doing enough to force Beppe wider than we would've liked. Rossi got wide again, crossed, Capdevila (!) couldn't quite get there.
Now the subs come--first Boateng for Casquero, then Marco Ruben on for Kiko. Presumably Bruno slid to the back, as he'd been playing deep most of the half anyhow to cover Capdevila's more forward position. And this move paid off in spades within five minutes. Santi Cazorla slipped the ball to Ruben, who beat a defender down the left and crosses the ball back across goal--and Rossi has made a perfect run and heads the ball home with a clinical, perfect finish!!!!
But it's not over yet--there are fifteen minutes to go, and except for Ruben, and possibly Rossi and Borja, everyone on the pitch looks exhausted. Capdevila has worked his butt off in this half willing things to happen, I think. He picked up a yellow card and Getafe had a dangerous free kick, but Arizmendi or someone was offside. When Villarreal play the ball upfield Rossi put his foot on it and basically gave everyone a few seconds' breather!!
The makeshift back line was under some pressure and clearly preferred clearing the ball away for a corner than trying to play out of trouble, but Diego Lopez is equal to the crosses. Catala came on for Cani somewhere in here. Wakaso came on with 10 minutes left for Santi, which gave everyone a bit of a pickup. He did work some neat passing with Borja and someone else in midfield to control possession for a while, which gave Villarreal a bit of a breather, but then picked up a yellow card as he clattered into Rios, and Getafe had a free kick not far outside our area.
And now the Burger Boys pulled out their training-ground maneuver, which involved Arizmendi running offside, then coming back, then setting off again as the ball is played through to him. Lopez is alert to this game and stops his rolled shot at the near post.
By now we're in injury time and the Vilarreal defense is content to clear the ball anywhere, but Getafe doesn't really have much to offer other than overhit passes down the left and hopeful high balls in search of no one in particular. And referee Gomez is clearly not going to do a Borbalan, thank goodness--and to credit Getafe, they aren't flopping around looking for calls, though they are frustrated.
When Borja Valero, canny and hardworking as always, forces Boateng to take him down by the center circle in the last minute of injury time, Villarreal is almost there--and then Rossi, the other tireless worker, wins a corner that will never be taken. Gomez blows his whistle!! A win in a must-win game. As for Getafe, they are in danger of becoming the best-bankrolled team ever in the Segunda, only a year after qualifying for Europe. I wonder if the Dubai investors saw that coming.
FT Villarreal 2-1 Getafe