Football is a funny old game. Celta Vigo dominated for long stretches of this match, but two Moi Gomez goals in just over a minute of the first half, and a third in injury time from Mario Gaspar, gave Villarreal a 3-1 victory over Celta Vigo, whose goal came from Larrivey just before halftime.
Going in the question was how Villarreal's back four, with young Adrian Marin and without our defensive rock Mateo Musacchio, would fare against Celta's attacking talent, especially Orellana and Larrivey. The omens in the first half-hour were not good; Orellana turned Marin in the 18th minute to get in a nice cross that Nolito couldn't head home, and ten minutes later the same happened. Celta had an even better chance to open the scoring at the half-hour mark when Krohn-Dehli found himself in space in the middle of our area, but couldn't control the pass.
In the first half-hour, Villarreal had created no shots on goal. That changed quickly though--Denis Cheryshev made a fine run from midfield with Gio, Uche and Moi in support. The move ended with a pass back to Moi, and his low shot skipped past a jumping Gio, as well as keeper Sergio Alvarez. Celta complained that Gio had interfered with play, and to be honest it wasn't clear from the referee's actions that he had at first given the goal, but he did.
And just as we were settling down from celebrating that one, Moi scored again! Celta turned the ball over in midfield, Villarreal broke forward in numbers, and Moi fired a screamer to Sergio's right and into the net from the top of the box.
Celta were frustrated with things, and Orellana should have picked up a yellow when he tussled with Marin on the touchline--but it was our youngster who got the yellow. Still, this was indicative--Marin was growing in confidence and Orellana was upset.
You felt that if Villarreal could get in to halftime 2-0 up, they'd be okay--and the Submarine nearly scored a third when Bruno's header off a corner went wide with the goal gaping, and Uche couldn't get to the far post in time to put it in. But as halftime neared, Celta did get their goal, courtesy of a huge error by Victor Ruiz, who failed to control a simple pass back from Gio, two Celta players pounced and Larrivey scored off the 2-on-none break.
HT Celta de Vigo 1-2 Villarreal
The first five minutes of the second half, Villarreal looked a good bet for that third goal, but Mario Gaspar's effort was brilliantly saved by Sergio's outstretched leg, and Uche headed wide off the corner. After that, it was pretty much all Celta for large stretches. Sergio Asenjo was outstanding, stopping point-blank headers, and our defense stood firm--Bruno cleared a shot off the line, Gabriel made a leg save of his own, and while Celta buzzed and buzzed around our box, the end product was lacking. Villarreal conceded 12 corners, most of them in this half, but the Sky Blues couldn't take advantage.
Marcelino made subs in the final half-hour, removing Cheryshev, Gio, and Moi for Jonathan dos Santos, Vietto, and Cani. The objective clearly was to bring on fresh legs, and fresh speed, in hopes of springing a successful counter, and it nearly worked a couple of times. We did gain a man advantage with a couple of minutes of regular time remaining when Fontas, already on a yellow, took Uche down to prevent an effective counter.
At 2-1, there was still a chance for Celta, but in injury time Vietto ran onto a speculative ball from someone (Jonathan dos Santos, I think) and made a perfect feed across the box to Mario Gaspar, who slotted the ball into the open net. That was really it, apart from a couple of Uche chances that were saved and a couple of meaningless Celta corners.
FT Celta de Vigo 1-3 Villarreal
In the preview I noted this was the sort of match we needed to win if we were going to show ourselves as contenders for the top four. Well, we won it. For all of Celta's statistical dominance (67% possession, 80% pass completion, 15 shots to our 11), we had excellent chances to score and put enough of them away, which is what you need to do in a match like this one.
Men of the match- Asenjo was outstanding, Moi of course scored twice. Gabriel did especially well in the back, and so did Marin--Orellana largely disappeared as a crosser of the ball after the first 30 minutes. And while some of the Villarreal fans were chomping at the bit for Marcelino to make his subs, after he did so, things quieted down a lot, and we were able to make some great counters.
Gio still is not 100% I don't think, and Uche's scoring touch seems to have deserted him this week. But both worked hard and played their parts in a big victory for us today. Well done Submarine!!