A depleted Villarreal, a small crowd at El Madrigal, but enough flashes of brilliance to come away with a 3-1 home win. That pretty much sums it up.
We knew we would be without Bruno and Cani, but Mateo Musacchio was a late scratch due to illness, handing Gabriel a start in the middle of defense.
Osasuna's lineup left out their leading scorer, Oriol Riera, with ex-Girona man Acuña the lone striker in their 4-2-3-1.
The first half was, to be honest, pretty poor. Osasuna was content to defend for the most part, and their efforts were aided by referee Alvarez Izquierdo, but also by Villarreal's poor passing. We concentrated on going through the center of the pitch, and Manu and Pina just couldn't find a way through. Gio dos Santos tried to combine with both Uche and Aquino, but our play was just too slow, and the Osasuna defenders were able to break up the final pass.
Probably our best chance was halfway through the half, when Gio played through a challenge in the box and passed to Moi, but Andres stopped his shot. It looked as though Gio could have won a penalty had he gone down, to be honest, but you never know. Uche had a good chance ruled out for a nonexistent offside, and Manu tried a shot from outside the box that Andres saved easily.
Osasuna had a chance to score in the 33rd minute when our defense didn't mark anyone well off a dead ball, but the Osasuna attacker hurried his shot and Asenjo saved it, though it almost got behind him and into the net. He got up clutching his shoulder, but after treatment was OK to continue. Otherwise, Osasuna was pretty much hoping to play long balls out of their half, and Gabriel dealt well with them.
What turned out to be an important substitution happened just before halftime--Uche, who had suffered some heavy challenges, went out with some sort of muscle injury and Jérémy Perbet replaced him.
HT Villarreal 0-0 Osasuna
Presumably Marcelino told his charges at halftime relax and stop trying to make the perfect pass, or something like that. Whatever he said, it worked great. Villarreal took the lead in the 47th minute--Chechu Dorado was just inside the Osasuna half on the left, saw Jeremy Perbet with space between defenders and made a pass that bounced once and was touched past goalkeeper Andrés by the Frenchman.
Seven minutes later we were two up. Gio dos Santos, who was coming more into the game at this point, passed to Manu Trigueros at the top of the box and his right-footed shot beat Andres, diving toward his far post. For the next 20 minutes Villarreal dominated the game and had several opportunities to score a third, but it was Perbet again who did so, with a tremendous shot across Andres and in off the post, set up by a Mario throw-in to Jony (who had just replaced Aquino) and his one-touch pass.
Villarreal were cruising--but it wasn't over yet. With 8 minutes left Oriol Riera finally came on, and within four minutes he had scored an amazing goal. Armenteros ran down the left wing, beating Gabriel; Riera hit his cross with the outside of his boot and found the far corner of the goal, the ball hitting off the post and in. Nothing Asenjo could do about that one.
And it really should have been 3-2. It might have taken them all game to figure it out, but Osasuna finally realized they should attack down Jaume Costa's side--and a cross from there found Oriol Riera totally alone in front of our goal, but somehow he headed the ball over. Score the hard one, miss the easy one.
Armenteros shot over (again from an attack down our left) in injury time, and Perbet's attempt for his hat-trick also was just over the top at the other end.
FT Villarreal 3-1 Osasuna
40 points, fifth place. Real Madrid coming up. Hopefully Bruno will be OK next week.