Valladolid made life difficult on Marcelino García Toral's men at El Madrigal. But Villarreal continued to push for 3 points, and Rubén Cani proved his match-winning caliber with a stunner in the 84th minute. 6 points from 6 to start Villarreal's return to La Liga.
Five takeaways from: Villarreal 2, Valladolid 1.
- Marcelino is still searching for his best XI. Today's version saw four changes: Chechu Dorado for a hobbled Íñiguez at center back, Manu Trigueros for Pina in the doble pivote, Javier Aquino for Hernán at right midfield, and Jony Pereira for Uche up front. Mixed results at best, though Aquino was a dynamo for the full 90 minutes.
- Ups and downs still plague the Yellow Submarine. After an early lung-busting Aquino run showed the Pucela defense's vulnerability, Valladolid crafted a gorgeous passing move for the opener. Moroccan international Zakarya Bergdich (look for that name) was intimately involved, springing Javi Guerra, and the natural finisher made no mistake. Sergio Asenjo had no chance and little to do on the day.
- Villarreal can control play in La Liga. This bunch in yellow will not be viewed as a newly-promoted side. Villarreal controlled play for much of the first half, getting behind the visitors' defense via long passes and quick moves alike, but the incisiveness in the final third missing was. The breakthrough was spawned by a run by wingback Jaume Costa, who beat Valladolid defender Alcatraz to a ball in the box -- clear penalty.
- It's a different team without Gio. Giovani dos Santos confidently converted the penalty in 38', sending our once and future keeper Diego Mariño the wrong way. The shot hit the post, but there was no doubt. Sadly, Gio picked up a knock in 47' and was replaced by Jérémy Perbet. Consequently, the game slowed and quality dropped by two levels. On course for another disappointing 1-1 draw at El Madrigal...
- Match-winners abound in the lineup. Until Rubén Cani had his say. After Asenjo nearly gifted the 3 points with a stray touch, he hit a precise long ball to Perbet beyond midfield (not the first display of Asenjo's impressive passing range). A slick Perbet turn and layoff later, and Cani was running at goal. His newfound fitness surpassed two flailing defenders; an absolute rocket into the top corner left Mariño a mere spectator. A goal deserving of all 3 points.