And so, Villarreal’s generally dismal record in this competition continues as despite winning 2-1 on the night, they go out on away goals to Leganés. Unlike in some years where Villarreal faced a deficit from the first leg and pretty much meekly accepted their fate, Javi Calleja selected about the strongest side he could in the circumstances, and from the opening whistle it was pretty much Leganés retreating into their defensive third and Villarreal pinging the ball around but winning corners but very little else.
It might have been different had the referee agreed with Carlos Bacca that he was unfairly impeded going for a cross in the second minute, but in spite of the Colombian’s protests, play went on. Lega’s keeper Champagne had already been called on to make a couple of fine saves and it seemed only a matter of time before a goal came, but when it did come, it was for the visitors. Dani Raba’s shot from outside the box was blocked, El Zhar easily beat Victor Ruiz for pace and chipped the ball past Barbosa and into the Villarreal goal.
HT Villarreal 0-1 Leganés
The second half began much better for Villarreal, with Raba scoring from close in just three minutes after the restart. Villarreal were trying less crossing and more passing inside the box, but Lega were content to concede corners, which were easily defended.
Pablo Fornals couldn’t buy a goal against Champagne—how the keeper even saw his shot in the 66th minute I don’t know, much less saved it—and shortly after that Unal had the ball in the net but was ruled offside--a correct call though close.
Castillejo for Rodri, Roger Martinez for Adrian Marín, Cheryshev for Fornals....the Submarine were throwing all caution to the wind. There were appeals for penalties at both ends, but mostly there was Yellow frustration as shot after shot was blocked or parried away. With two minutes left Chery finished off a move started by Castillejo, but that was it. Extra time brought a couple of half-chances and the sight of Barbosa trying to play sweeper and support the attack, but that was about it.
FT Villarreal 2-1 Leganes, 2-2 aggregate (Lega advance on away goals)
Best players were their keeper Champagne and defender Siovas; for Villarreal, Trigueros probably. Roger Martinez got a run out but to be honest in this sort of match you couldn’t tell much—he did have a couple of shots and was called for a nonexistent offside that might have set up something good if it hadn’t been called back.
I don’t know that this is a match where a Bakambu would have made a difference—maybe a more speedy defender would have—but Villarreal had I think 16 corners, over 20 shots, the chances were there but we weren’t able to create any danger from corners or enough space in the box for our strikers.
Not sure this was the greatest warmup for a trip to the Bernabeu this weekend, but there it is. Endavant Villarreal!!