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Another goal from "El Rifle" sends Villarreal to the top of the table

Villarreal defeated Ponferradina 1-0 at El Toralin behind a Walter Pandiani goal. Combined with Almeria's loss at Sabadell, this result sends the Yellow Submarine to the top of the Segunda table, at least pending the result of the Cordoba-Elche match today.

With no television I'm relying on reports from those in Spain who saw it, the official site report (here), and some brief highlights.

By all accounts, Villarreal bossed the first forty-five minutes, but, as so often, was unable to translate that dominance into goals. Cani was denied on a tight angle with the keeper when in one-on-one; Mario Gaspar (!) showed unexpected pace to beat two defenders but his cross for Cavenaghi was just off, and the Argentian really should have scored but somehow failed to convert an inch-perfect first-time cross from Manu Trigueros. A Senna blast form outside the area from a corner made it through a forest of legs but just sliced wide, and from another corner Cavenaghi ahd the ball in the net but the referee ruled Mellberg had committed a foul in the buildup.

The second half was more even (it appeared the Toralin pitch drained more poorly at the end Villarreal were attacking in this half) and Juan Carlos made some key interventions to keep things level.

In the 58th minute Velasquez introduced Pandiani in place of Trigueros, giving the Submarine two recognized forwards up front, and this move eventually paid off when in the 72nd minute a fine cross from Juan Oriol (I am sure he worked on these this week!) found Pandiani who headed home.

Juan Carlos and the defense had to deal with some Ponferradina attacks in the second half, for sure, and coach Velasquez (and orient1) specifically praised our goalkeeper's performance. Gerard Bordas and Florian Lejeune came in late to get their first minutes of the season, and though Villarreal picked up six cards in the game (all in the second half) the club was able to hold on for the victory. All in all, a well-earned three points. Well done!