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Villarreal dominate Osasuna early in 3-1 victory

The second half was forgettable, but the first half was Villarreal’s finest of the season so far.

Villarreal disposed of Osasuna 3-1 at El Madrigal to move into fourth place in La Liga behind first-half goals from Pato, Bruno (a penalty) and Sansone. Roberto Torres converted a penalty on the stroke of halftime for Osasuna’s only tally.

Osasuna’s 5-3-2 was breached in the fifth minute by a Trigueros-Samu Castillejo-Pato move, the Duck heading the ball home. It could have been 2-0 moments later, but Sansone was called for a nonexistent offside when he had only the keeper to beat.

Villarreal added to its lead 20 minutes in when Roberto Soriano was tripped in the box by keeper Mario—no doubt about that one—and Bruno’s penalty, though not his best, was good enough to beat the keeper who dove the wrong way. Villarreal were controlling midfield, and Pato, Sansone and Samu Castillejo were giving the defense all sorts of problems. Osasuna nearly put the ball in their own net off a comical rebound of an attempted clearance, Mario making a spectacular flying save, but with six minutes left in the half Villarreal did add a third, this time Sansone finished off the Pato-Samu C move.

However, on the stroke of halftime Jaume Costa was beated by Sergio Leon, the ex-Elche man stormed into the box and went down, clutching his knee, as Alvaro Gonzalez made contact with him. The referee pointed to the spot and Roberto Torres sent Sergio Asenjo the wrong way.

HT Villarreal 3-1 Osasuna

And that was really about it. The second half featured Osasuna using all their subs by the 53rd minute, and Villarreal kicking the ball around like a training session. Appeals for penalties at both ends went unheeded, and while Osasuna dominated proceedings, they were probably lucky not to have sub Olavide sent off for hauling down Castillejo as the last defender—even if he was in the middle of the pitch.

The best chance for either team was a Sergio Leon rush down the right that produced a fine near-post save from Asenjo; otherwise there were dangerous balls across the area, a number of corners for Osasuna, but no change in the scoreboard.

Jonathan dos Santos, Denis Cheryshev and Santos Borré all came on as subs; Chery still seems to be getting used to things and Borré’s first touch let him down on a couple of occasions. Jonathan was his usual magisterial self.

FT Villarreal 3-1 Osasuna

Possession: Villarreal, 60-40.

Shots: Villarreal, 12-11.

Next up for Villarreal, a trip to Romania to take on Steaua Bucharest on Thursday, and then a visit to Barcelona to take on Espanyol on Sunday.

Man of the match: tough one, I’ll go for Samu Castillejo by a touch over Nicola Sansone. And Bruno played much better today, more like what I’m used to seeing. (NB—whoscored has Samu C and Bruno as its top two).