Villarreal picked up its first point in a European competition group stage competition since December 2010 with a battling draw at Borussia Munchengladbach. This was a fascinating tie and featured a contrast of styles, especially in the first half. Villarreal looked happy to let Gladbach have most of the possession, but pressure the ball in the middle of the pitch to create turnovers and counterattack chances.
Gladbach buzzed around fairly brightly, but the best chance of the first twenty minutes fell to Denis Cheryshev, but his weak effort when through against the keeper was smothered. And from the resulting clearance, Gladbach took the lead, Herrmann scoring the goal with a blast from the top of the box that Asenjo may feel he should have stopped, but to be honest he was hung out to dry.
That goal seemed to give the home side more determination and they could have gone 2-0 up in the 41st minute, as Asenjo and Ruiz contrived to give Hrgota a gilt-edged chance, but he failed to convert. Justice, really, because he was offside in the buildup and it wasn't spotted.
HT Gladbach 1-0 Villarreal
Villarreal immediately looked more effective in the second half. Most of our attacks had gone through Cani anyhow, but in the second half he was more mobile and there were more dangerous passes from him. In the 59th minute Cheryshev should have scored for sure, but shot wildly over the bar after an incisive Cani pass.
Somewhere in here Vietto had a goal waved off, but since my internet connection had died just then, I don't know what happened. Anyhow, he came off in the 67th minute for Uche, Pina having already been removed for Trigueros. And the equalizer came immediately--Bruno passed forward to Trigueros, he made one of those passes he makes to Uche who poked the ball home--and was injured in the process. It looked like the goalkeeper's cleats caught him in the thigh--hard to tell.
Jonathan dos Santos came on for Uche, so we were effectively playing a 4-6-0--especially as Cheryshev came up a bit lame with 10 minutes to go. And then Gabriel injured his leg, we had no subs, so had to hang on through four minutes of injury time as Gladbach pushed for a win.
The main talking point was what looked for sure like a handball on Moi Gomez in the area--he tried to control the ball, it went off his foot and struck his left hand (away from his body) and the linesman on that side, who had a good view of the incident, raised his flag for the foul. The referee (who had no view at all) overruled him, and let the Submarine break forward as the Gladbach players protested. Even after the game ended, there were protests.
It would have been very harsh on Villarreal to have come away with nothing after a fine second half; the Gladbach fans were pretty much sitting on their hands for most of it, and if Uche hadn't been injured and we had been able to play the formation we wanted late on, who knows what might have happened. As it is, given that we expect this to be the toughest opposition in this group, we will definitely take a point on the road.
FT Gladbach 1-1 Villarreal
Men of the match: Musacchio, Cani (in 2nd half anyway).
Other good sensations from: Can't really give it to Uche since he was only on the pitch for a minute. Same with Trigueros and Jonathan dos Santos, but they both looked good. Bruno his usual fine self.
Gabriel was caught out in the first half, was better in second, and even on one leg made some good plays late on; Vietto should have scored apparently and he made some nice passes to Cheryshev which were not converted.
Flop of the match: Cheryshev, who failed to finish a couple of good opportunities and also didn't make good passing decisions.
Actually, the real flop of the match had to be the referee, who was poor. His yellow card to Pina was a joke--no need to give yellow for that when it's his first foul; he let some obvious fouls against Cani go by; he totally befuddled the entire stadium when Gladbach took a corner, it was cleared out for a throw. During the play Mateo Musacchio went down at the top of the box, and sat there stretching his leg out. Instead of waiting for him (or else having the physios come out to treat him, whatever) and then letting Gladbach take the throw, he awarded Villarreal a drop ball. Why I have no idea, nor did anyone else watching.
Then there was the Vietto goal, and the penalty incident. UEFA ought to take a look at this guy's performance.