It wasn't just Sid, Ravi and me predicting a goalfest today--I think pretty much everyone did--but in the end, Celt Vigo and Villarreal played a 0-0 draw today. I guess a sign of our progress that we're all disappointed at not notching our third straight away win, but it still feels like an opportunity lost.
Marcelino went with the same starting XI as against Madrid, while Celta handed a start to their young striker Santi Mina to partner Charles up front. But it was clear early on the Submarine was not clicking the way it did last week. Cani and Aquino were anonymous (I didn't realize Aquino was playing until about the 25-minute mark) and our only chances fell to Jony Pereira. Jony's speed is good at setting up chances, but his finishing is the thing that has kept him from being a real star, and that was evident today.
He had an opportunity early but Yoel made a relatively comfortable near-post save, but really should have done better off a corner when the ball came to him and he shot over. Our counterattacks got behind Celta, but to no effect. We were however quite comfortable defensively--Asenjo had to make one save early on but after that I remember very little he had to do. Overall, the first half was relatively even though Villarreal looked a little more dangerous, if not on top of their game.
HT Celta 0-0 Villarreal
The second half started out much like the first. Gio had the ball in the net twice for us, but both were ruled out (correctly) for offside. It seemed pretty clear we would make some substitutions, especially given we have another game in midweek, and it wasn't surprising when Manu Trigueros and Cani were the first two to come off. Both players were far from their best, and bringing on Tomas Pina and Hernan Pérez made sense.
Jony could have scored around the 65th minute, but his shot across the keeper went wide of the far post, and around this time Gio came up with cramp. He eventually went off for Perbet, and in retrospect this substitution should have been made earlier, because we needed someone to hold up the ball in the box.
As the game wore on Celta dropped back more into their defensive shell--I think the difference in fitness was beginning to tell--and Villarreal had two excellent chances to score. Someone (Perbet, maybe?) centered the ball to Aquino, but with only the keeper to beat he didn't get full contact on his shot and Yoel saved it, then shortly afterward another chance came when Perbet controlled the ball in the area, his shot was blocked and came to Hernan Perez, whose rocket was batted away by the Celta keeper. It just wasn't our day.
FT Celta 0-0 Villarreal
Celta really didn't trouble us much at the other end, and it felt as though we were certainly the superior team in the last 15-20 minutes or so (certainly after Perbet came on) so the final result felt disappointing.
If Gio could have stayed onside, I'd feel differently, but overall, it felt as though too many of our main cogs--Gio, Aquino, Cani, Manu--had a mediocre day. When Gio was successful going forward, he didn't have the sort of support we've been accustomed to seeing.
A tough call for Marcelino, because it's not as though Gio or Jony were bad (and Jony kept getting in behind the defense) but in retrospect I think he would agree bringing in Perbet sooner would have been a good idea. He was only on for 15 minutes, and our best chances came then, both set up by him. We needed more brawn up front, and he provided it.
In summary, yes, it does feel like three points were there for the taking, but we still have gone five games without defeat and have 11 points from 5 matches. This was the first time we were shut out in a competitive game since April 27, in Lugo, and only the third time since Marcelino took over (and that's counting his first official game in charge, against RM Castilla, even though he had just arrived at the club).
Let's rebound against Espanyol, shall we? (who play tomorrow)
My man of the match--probably Mario Gaspar, actually. He broke up a number of counterattacks and did everything he was asked to do.