Due to time constraints, this is going to be less a blow-by-blow report than general impressions. Maybe that's better anyway.
Sporting lined up in sort of a 4-1-4-1 with our old friend Eguren as a sweeper, and David Barral with a lone attacker. In the first five or ten minutes Villarreal seemed to want to play long through balls, and it almost worked twice as Joselu made nice diagonal runs but keeper Juan Pablo was alert to the danger.
Villarreal forced several corners and should have scored from one of them, but Joselu's stabbed shot was stopped by the keeper, the rebound went to Musacchio and his shot was blocked off the line by one of the Sporting defenders. Story of our season!
The only time Sporting looked dangerous was when we gave the ball away trying to start another attack form the back. Musacchio did this once, got a yellow card for his trouble, and the Asturians' best chance game from an Angel and Senna giveaway which wound up with a "seen them given" shout for a penalty--but fortunately for Villarreal the referee wasnt interested.
In general Bora Valero was head and shoulders above the rest of the players on the pitch, which wasn't totally a good thing because it showed how little support he was receiving sometimes. Senna and Cani had moments of effectiveness,but most Submarine attacks came down the left with Oriol and Borja making many good moves. oriol needs to learn how to cross the ball better, though.
Borja and Cani both slashed good shots wide from outside the box. We could have been ahead. But
HT Villarreal 0-0 Sporting
The second half began slowly for Villarreal, I thought. Sporting pressed forward more and we were on the back foot, conceding a corner--which could have gone in if one of the Gijon players could have gotten his foot to it as it skimmed across the box. But no one did. And suddenly Villarreal scord not once, but twice in two minutes! The first goal was all Marco Ruben. Well, not quite all, because someone (not sure who) made a nice pass to find him at the top of the area, but he had two defenders on him. He fought through those two, two more arrived, but with a clever move he managed to make room for his shot and drilled a low one just inside the post.
From Villarreal's next attack, another goal came--this time it was Borja Valero with a screamer form well outside the box. The sense of relief was palpable and El Madrigal was quite happy for a change!! After the way we've blown leads at home (Valencia, Sevilla) I was waiting for Sporting to put us under pressure, but they really didn't. I guess for the first five minutes or so after our second goal we were sitting back a bit and letting them come at us, but it was soon clear we didn't have much to worry about except isolated runs.
Marcos Senna, who didn't have a good first part of the game, was much more assured, and Borja remained Borja, and everyone just seemed to turn it up a notch. Not even Gonzalo's lack of pace bothered me much--at least he was playing good positional defense. Villarreal played some really nice possession stuff; Ruben had a couple of half-chances, so did Joselu. Castellani, Camunas and Marchena (remember him?) came on at various points for Cani, Joselu and Senna, and in the first minute of injury time Castellani set up Bruno for a nice smash into the top of the net.
The Villarreal players were all smiles as the game ended, the fans cheered. Three goals, three points, very nice indeed. As for Sporting, I hope they stay up. With us.
FT Villarreal 3-0 Sporting Gijon
And so, Villarreal win for the first time under José Molina; they win for the first time since November 19 (Betis) and are now 17th in the table, ahead of Granada on goal difference. Of course, our next match is against Barcelona, so we shouldn't expect anything, but at least the team and the afición can feel good about the vibes again.
Man of the match for me was Borja, clearly; he was outstanding all game. Nice to see us play with confidence, especially once we were 2-0 up. The final score was a fair reflection of the gulf between the sides on this night.