Villarreal kept up the momentum in the league with a 2-0 win over Granada at El Madrigal, but it was far from an easy win. Marcelino made a number of changes with an eye on the Copa match in midweek.
The Submarine started well and had four good chances to score in the first 20 minutes, but keeper Oier was equal to the challenge. (Not to mention a goal waved off for offside, and a stamp on Rukavina in the area that didn't bring a penalty). However, just before the half-hour Bruno's FK found Gerard, he crossed the ball to an onrushing Musacchio, and the ball was deflected in to the net--originally given to Musacchio, but then ruled an own goal.
Granada seemed to wake up after that, but without a real attacking midfielder to support Jhon Cordoba, no real chances were created.
HT Villarreal 1-0 Granada
The second half began in equally worrying fashion for Villarreal, as Granada controlled most of the play but couldn't find their way through Villarreal's defense. Marcelino wasn't happy with the lack of control, and he hauled off Campbell, Trigueros and Uche between the 61st and 72nd minutes. He was clearly looking for a counterattack to bring a second goal, introducing Gio, Chery and Jona, and in the 76th minute it nearly paid off with a ball over the top from Dorado that Gio controlled, passed back to Gerard, but his shot was straight at Oier.
The last fifteen minutes were extremely nervy. Asenjo, who hadn't had too much to do other than grab some corners and crosses to that point, made an incredible reflex save from a deflected shot to keep it 1-0, and was called on again to make another fine save moments later. He spilled the rebound to Jhon Cordoba, who was ruled offside (he wasn't) but failed to score anyway, hitting the post rather than the open goal.
Granada argued for a penalty when Musacchio tusseled with Cordoba for a ball in the box, and one of their players (probably the whiner Piti) flopped trying to win a penalty off a corner (memo to player: it helps if there is actually someone near you when you fall backward). However, in the second of three added minutes, Villarreal created a three-on-none break with a pass from Bruno to Chery. He drew the keeper out and passed to Gerard Moreno who sidefooted the ball into the empty net.
FT Villarreal 2-0 Granada
Reflections: Robin got the score right, 2-0, while I had the style of the game right (lots of 'suffering'), and Sid probably had the best insight when he pointed out the lack of attacking skill in Granada's midfield. There were a lot of shots from around the top of the box in search of a lucky bounce but not much in the way of really good interplay between Cordoba and the midfielders.
Joel Campbell was better than in the Copa match, creating a couple of half-opportunities by running past people, and putting one shot form outside the box on net, but is still figuring out who will be where. Moi continues to frustrate me; he makes some really good plays but then tries to do too much. Gerard Moreno had a great match, not only getting on the scoresheet but providing an assist on the first goal, and tracking back to break up plays as well.
Dorado and Musacchio played well, so did Jaume Costa, and Bruno was excellent as usual. Mario and Vietto got the day off so will be fresh for Barca on Wednesday, and we got the points, so we have to be happy about that! Endavant!