Villarreal did all they could do to win Group A, but the draw with Munchengladbach in El Madrigal hurt us. We could only finish one point behind the Germans, as they won easily over Zurich while Villarreal coasted to a victory over Apollon Limassol.
While many Submarine supporters were critical of Marcelino for choosing to go with Rukavina on right wing again, to be honest the coach got it pretty much right. Apollon were pretty unimpressive, and their stadium was mostly empty, so the only real danger in this one would have been an early goal for the home side to get the people who were there behind their side.
Perhaps that's why Rukavina picked up an unnecessary yellow card in the 20th minute, after a wayward corner from Moi Gomez had resulted in a chance for Apollon to break with the ball. The first half-hour of the match brought several clear chances for Villarreal, most following to Vietto, but the Apollon defense was happy to concede corners, half a dozen early on.
It seemed as though Apollon would wilt at some point, because Gerard Moreno and Luciano Vietto were working well together, and Villarreal had control of midfield. Sure enough, the breakthrough came in the 34th minute; Jaume Costa played a diagonal ball along the ground to Gerard Moreno; Apollon defender Angeli's sliding attempt to block the ball only resulted in the ball bouncing off him to gerard, who scooped it over the keeper.
Five minutes later Vietto made it 2-0; this time the buildup was more involved, but it was a scuffed cross to Vietto that set him up for a quick shot past the keeper.
You can see the match highlights here.
Marcelino pulled Bruno and Mario at HT, resting them for Sunday; in came Espinosa and Trigueros, with Rukavina sliding back to right back. Espinosa had a nice chance to make it 3-0 halfway through the period, but shot into the side netting; Apollon had a couple of half-chances to score, but Villarreal controlled things all the way.
Now for the match on Sunday in the Calderon, and then the Europa League draw on Monday, when we find out who we play in the round of 32. Endavant!