Villarreal lost to Alaves 2-1 in a match that will have Submarine supporters shaking their heads—partly the team selection (or at least, not starting Manu Trigueros), partly the uninspired play and poor defense in the first half, and finally a huge miss right at the end by Cedric Bakambu that could have given us at least a point to take home.
Without Jona dos Santos, without Samu Castillejo, without Roberto Soldado, it was surprising to see Trigueros rested. Nothing against Rodrigo, but we needed a passer in there. Alaves nearly scored early but did take the lead 35 minutes in, a lashed sho from outside the box by Ibai Gomez that I’m not sure Andres could have done anything about. The killer though was a headed goal by Eby just before the break, where the Villarreal defense looked poor and didn’t close down the runners coming into the box.
In the second half, after a tepid 10 minutes Rodrigo was hauled off for Trigueros. It was the right sub to make, though Rodrigo was upset at coming off, for sure. Trigueros practically played as an engache the rest of the way, dropping deep to pick up the ball while Alaves tried to get everyone behind the ball and dare us to break them down.
Villarreal scored in the 70th minute from Cedric Bakambu after Mario had won the ball from an Alaves player—it was a nice quick shot across the keeper. And the Submarine had other chances to score, too, but sometimes there were just too many players packed in the box and passes never led to real opportunities. Roberto Soriano did break down the defense with a nice pass but keeper Pacheco was quick enough to deflect Bakambu’s attempt.
But the miss of all misses was deep in injury time—Manu Trigueros’s long pass magically found Bakambu who used his speed to get to the ball and—put it wide of the far post. I swear it looked as though it would have been easier to go to the short-side, but it was an astonishing miss and the Villarreal supporters at that end of the pitch couldn’t believe it.
So, the standings now:
Villarreal 54; Athletic Club 53; Real Sociedad 52; Eibar 50; Espanyol 49.
This loss also pretty much ends any chance of finishing fourth as Sevilla are on 62 and have home matches against Granada and Osasuna. Next week Villarreal host Leganes—we MUST WIN this as it is one of our easiest matches left on paper. Eibar and Athletic Club play each other, while Real Sociedad have a theoretically easy home match against Depor and Espanyol host Atletico Madrid.