Villarreal have one foot in the next round of the Copa del Rey following a 2-1 win today in Cadiz. IN spite of the makeshift lineup fielded by Villarreal, resting a number of key players, the difference in skill level between the two sides was immediately evident, as the Valencian Submarine went 2-0 up within 20 minutes and could have had a couple of more goals by halftime.
Javier Espinosa's close control was excellent, Pina and dos Santos controlled midfield, and Gerard Moreno showed his goal-poaching skills, also turning provider for Nahuel Leiva. The Cadiz fans cheered and sang all the way through the half, and I fully expected more of the same in the second.
HT Cadiz 0-2 Villarreal
However, as has happened before this season, Villarreal came out flat after the break, and immediately conceded two corners to the home side. The second of these was flicked on to Arregi at the far post, who thumped the ball into Juan Carlos's net. Shortly after our keeper made a fine reflex save to keep the score level, the opportunity created through an unforced error in our half gave the ball away.
Worse was to come. In the 58th minute Adrián Marín horribly mistimed a slide tackle on ex-Villarreal B player Kiko Lopez (watch the video here) and received a straight red from referee Iglesias Villanueva. I felt this was a bit harsh, especially as not ten minutes before Airam Cabrera had gone in with a studs-up challenge in the middle of the park and only seen yellow. Marin's looked worse, I suppose, but really wasn't.
Marcelino seemed to have gone into the second half with his substitutions already planned out-- Manu Trigueros had just replaced Jonathan dos Santos when Marín got his red, and now Jaume Costa had to come in, Jose Naranjo being sacrificed to make way for him. Gerard Moreno came off for Uche ten minutes later, but with just under fifteen minutes left, more disaster for Villarreal.
Juan Carlos came out to punch away a cross into the box, collided with Airam and Israel Puerto, and our young defender went down, knocked out by the force of the collision. He was stretchered off the pitch and wanted to return, but our medical staff, to their credit, would not let him. Good thing too, as he complained of dizziness and blurred vision once he had returned to our locker room.
The final 15 minutes (Including a generous five minutes of injury time) was played out almost entirely in Villarreal's end of the pitch, but our makeshift defense (Tomas Pina serving as center back, Uche as a right winger) actually survived without too much difficulty considering the numbers. As in the first half, the difference in quality between the two clubs was the key.
Everyone watching the game had to love Villarreal's red third kit--the commentators on the stream I was listening to certainly did--and also the terrific support the home team received from thousands of flag-waving fans who sang the whole game through.
FT Cadiz 1-2 Villarreal