It's always a pleasure to visit Vallecas--the Rayo fans are as passionate as you'll find anywhere, the club has this anti-establishment, politically active vibe that is pretty cool, and to top things off, the home side usually loses to us. And so it proved today.
The crowd was down thanks to Señor Tebas--a 10pm kickoff on a Monday night (and Three Kings Day to boot), but the Rayo Ultras packed the one end stand. There were a few Villarreal fans in view, too, mostly from our Madrid-based penya. Evidently Marcelino came to the same conclusion we had--Aquino and Hernán Pérez shouldn't both start in Cani's absence. And he evidently agreed with our forum commenters, who suggested Moi should play on the left. The other major change (and a bit of a surprise) was the front two of Uche and Perbet, and no Gio or Jony.
Rayo's main danger men looked to be Lass Bangoura and Jonathan Viera. Problem was, they had little help in their 4-2-3-1 from the guy in the 1, Bueno, and Adrian was MIA in the middle of the 3. Within ten minutes the pattern of the match had been established--Rayo possession, ultimately leading to an attack down a wing--Villarreal content to defend but look for the break, with Manu-Moi-Uche-Perbet the main guys. And within ten minutes it was evident that we had an incompetent referee, too (more on that later).
Villarreal took the lead in the tenth minute--Moi Gomez stole the ball from Trashorras (I think), pushed a quick pass forward to Perbet, and he found Uche, who beat Cobeño in the Rayo goal. And within two minutes, we were two up--Moi with a pass to Perbet, who touched it home past Cobeño again. it should have been 3-0 ten minutes later, when Moi, Perbet and Uche broke on a three-on-one, but Moi passed to Uche when Perbet was the open player.
The referee, Hernandez Hernandez, floated serenely around the action, but seldom penalized obvious fouls. I haven't seen so many bemused players (from both sides) on the ptich in a while, looking around while a teammate was felled and play went on. This hands-off style of refereeing hurt us shortly after our second goal when Uche made a nice turn in the box, was felled by a defender's lunging leg, and there was no call.
Villarreal nearly got caught out by Viera off a quick throw-in, and Lass blazed a shot from outside the box that Asenjo did well to palm away. Then came a strange sequence when two Rayo players couldn't pull the trigger on a shot and we translated that into a 3-on-1. Unfortunately, Moi's pass went pass one open player to the second one (Perbet) who shot wide with the goal gaping.
Another one of those odd play sequences followed next, with a Rayo player down, Hernandez Hernandez taking no notice (or probably not having noticed), Rayo playing on and nearly scoring. However. four minutes before halftime, we made it 3-0--Moi beating two defenders and passing the ball to Perbet who again touched it neatly home.
HT Rayo Vallecano 0-3 Villarreal
Rayo made two changes at halftime, Tito and Adrian coming off and Mojica and Castillo replacing them. I guess this meant Rayo were now going to three at the back, but to be honest given how porous their defense was, did it matter? Aquino came on for Hernán Pérez (who was fairly quiet in the first half), and within three minutes was taken down by Mojica. Unbelievably, it earned a yellow! Things were back to normal, though, since Galvez took down Uche, the ref waved play on, and hard challenges from both sides went unpunished.
Bueno headed wide from close range, and in the 54th minute came a scary moment when Cobeño's long punt was cleared by Asenjo outside his area, and he collided with Chechu Dorado, who was running full-tilt toward him. he was stretchered off and on came Pantic for his first minutes at center back!
Immediately afterward, Villarreal scored again, with Aquino doing most of the running, finding Perbet whose shot was saved, the rebound came back to Aquino who crossed it for a wide-open Uche to touch into the empty net.
It was 5-0 in the 64th minute, when a Trigueros free kick was spilled by the hapless Cobeño directly to Uche who scored his first hat-trick in Spain. By now the Rayo Ultras were derisively cheering every time their goalkeeper did anything positive (like take a goal kick). And they did have something to cheer when Castillo deftly shot across Asenjo to make it 5-1. I have to say I think everyone was kind of switching off at that point.
Hernandez Hernandez, who had lost the plot ages ago, decided to make himself meaningful, giving Jeremy Perbet a yellow card in the 75th minute for absolutely nothing that anyone could figure out. It looked like a training game, but the referee couldn't help but do something stupid, first lecturing Pina and Galvez for pushing, then awarding a penalty to Rayo--Trashorras and Uche met, yes, the Nigerian led with a high boot, but Trashorras fell grabbing his back (and alternatively his hand) and the penalty was awarded.
Castillo put the penalty away, Asenjo guessing correctly but unable to stop the well-taken shot. It was really over by now, nothing much happening apart from satiric cheers for the Rayo keeper catching a floated ball into the box.
Last time we scored five goals in a Primera match: November 1, 2009 at home against Tenerife (Llorente 2, Pires, Rossi, Cani)
Last time (only time, I think) we scored five goals on the road in a Primera match: December 8, 2000 (Las Palmas 1, Villarreal 5)
FT Rayo Vallecano 2-5 Villarreal
With three matches coming up against Real Sociedad, it was good to get Aquino and Hernán a half each, and Bruno got about 20 minutes late in the game, replacing a tiring Moi (I have to say Bruno looked rather rusty), and Gio didn't have to play at all. Early word is Dorado is fine, which would be good news.
So....we were wondering if we needed a left winger and striker in the transfer window. Do we already have them in Moi and Perbet, or was this just a far more wide-open game than we should expect from other Primera matches? Thoughts?