Jaume Costa entered the Villarreal starting XI at left back, while Rubén Cani effectively took Nilmar's place. Borja Valero moved up front to pair (nominally) with Marco Ruben. A bit of a surprise that Miguel Ángel Lotina opted for a lone frontman at home, but Borja has succeeded as a second striker.
Osasuna played Nino (ex-Tenerife) and Ibrahima (ex-Atlético Madrid) up front, with Raúl García (also ex-Atlético) returning to the lineup. Unfortunately for us.
The opening minutes were a bit cagey, but Villarreal generally started on the front foot. It was a more open match than we have come to expect under Lotina, and the chances started to reflect that on the half-hour. Bruno Soriano's cross struck the bar from a fortuitous deflection, but more clear-cut opportunities were soon to come.
First Villarreal unlocked the Osasuna defense with a sweeping move, ending up on Costa's boot down the left. Ruben met a dangerous cross, but his sliding touch at an empty net hit the post. At the other end, Iranian international Javad Nekounam also found iron. A let-off for both sides.
Then came the Villarreal goal. Another good buildup found Marcos Senna in a pocket of space on the edge of the box. His shot was parried by Andrés Fernández, but the rebound squirted between two Osasuna defenders and to the oncoming Bruno on the left side of the box. Our man from Artana took his time, picked out the top corner, and left the Osasuna keeper with no chance. 1-0 on the stroke of halftime.
1-0 44' Bruno
Half Time: 1-0
Villarreal turned it up to start the second half. Lotina's halftime speech was particularly well-received by Borja, who spurned at least three chances in the fifteen minutes after the restart. Fernández made a couple of saves, including from a one-on-one. The alarm bells were ringing at El Madrigal.
Osasuna made two changes, bringing on Lekic (remember him, Barcelona fans?) and Timor to try and liven up a stagnant attack. And Wakaso Mubarak (remember him, Villarreal fans?) replaced Cani in 70' to a warm ovation. Waka was his usual self: over-hitting crosses, running through an Osasuna player (and deservedly earning a yellow card), and generally providing energy. Good to see.
But the rojillos' danger man had been on the pitch from the start. Out of absolutely nothing, Raúl García leveled the match with under twenty minutes left. A great half-volley from the edge of the box hit side netting, with Diego López diving only for the cameras. Bruno gave García a bit of space, and the ex-colchonero made us pay for his tenth goal of the season.
1-1 72' R. García
The life was sucked out of El Madrigal (and a sleepy Sr. Roig). Hernán Pérez continued to threaten on the wing, but the Paraguayan's crosses left a lot to be desired. Part of that was the lack of a second target in the box. Nilmar replaced Hernán with seven minutes left, but the Brazilian striker hardly saw the ball.
Lotina ate his final substitution in lieu of bringing on Alejandro Martinuccio. Why? I'll never know. Wakaso blasted a free kick over everyone, Cristián Zapata fouled when heading over, and the referee blew the whistle for full time.
Full Time: 1-1
Another week, another disappointing result. But a point is a point, and Villarreal is still one full game above the drop zone. Let's hope for Zaragoza to lose tomorrow. Then if we win at Sporting, we will be safe for another year. But that's quite a few maybes. Endavant Villarreal!