Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, the saying goes, and Villarreal were fortunate today, converting a last-play-of-the-match penalty to defeat Deportivo La Coruña 2-1 before over 23,000 fans in a wet Riazor.
Villarreal opted for the usual defensive pair on the road of Bruno Soriano and Tomas Pina, with Jona dos Santos and Denis Suarez on the wings, and as you might have expected it was Suarez from this group who was the most active in trying to create chances for the front pairing of Soldado and Bakambu.
The first half was cagey, but attractive to watch. Depor's Cartabia and Alberto were probing our defense, and Denis Suarez and Bakambu were probing theirs. With both sides canceling each other out, it took a set-piece to create a goal, and it was the Yellow Submarine who got it--Jona dos SAntos took a corner short to an uncovered Mario Gaspar who ran toward the byline and passed the ball back to an open Bruno Soriano who slammed the ball past Lux.
HT Deportivo 0-1 Villarreal
Within three minutes of the restart, Depor were level, thanks to a pass out of our backline by Victor Ruiz that bounced off its intended target and toward our goal, Lucas Perez grabbed it and crossed to Alberto who put the ball between Areola's legs. And Depor really should have taken the lead shortly afterward, when another unforced Villarreal error gave Perez the ball in our box with only Areola to beat, but he shot wide.
Villarreal were all over the place but Depor couldn't really exploit that, and the Bakambu-Soldado pairing was doing nothing for us. Marcelino went to Baptistao and Samu Garcia up top, brought in Nahuel for Jona, but in spite of Marcelino's optimism--he kept encouraging his troops to go for the winner rather than sit back--a draw seemed the only possible (and justified) outcome.
And then. In the last breaths of injury time Villarreal played a hopeful ball forward toward Garcia in the Depor box, he was bundled out of the play by defender Navarro and referee Borbalán whistled for a penalty. Well, maybe so, but pretty soft, especially since he had ignored a claim when Areola took out Arribas on a set piece.
Bruno Soriano stepped up, did that Rossi stutter-step, and when Lux dived left, Capi stuck it down the middle for a second goal on the day and a 2-1 Villarreal win. The final whistle went immediately after the restart.
FT Deportivo 1-2 Villarreal
They also say what goes around comes around, and remembering how we lost two points at Betis thanks to a ridiculously offside goal, maybe it does. Those of us with longer memories might also recall it was this referee who blew for a fairly nonexistent penalty against us in 2010-11 (match against Sporting in El Madrigal), enabling the visitors to scape with an undeserved draw.
Regardless, a draw would have been the fairer result, but we are happy to be going home with three points. And I know Robin and Millie, and the rest of the small group of Villarreal fans who were there, will feel the same. With this win we now have 36 points, 5 straight wins in the league, and a five point lead over a slumping Celta Vigo for fourth.