The match was much as one expected it might be, with Real Madrid pressing and Villarreal frequently being pinned back in their half of the field. Sergio Asenjo was the star of the first half, making a couple of outstanding saves from Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo. Carlos Bacca had a great chance to put Villarreal ahead but couldn’t.
Perhaps Cristiano Ronaldo could have gone down in the box when put off balance by Mario, but he played through the challenge and Asenjo saved the shot, then just before the half Asenjo came up big again with a big stop on Isco. Villarreal had been outplayed in the first half, outshot 18-4, but it was still 0-0.
HT Real Madrid 0-0 Villarreal
Villarreal made a change at the break, Denis Cheryshev coming on for Raba. And this almost paid dividends from the get go, as Chery was put through to the top of the box but dragged his shot wide. Another prod at goal from Mario was put wide, and then Asenjo was called on to block a shot from Kroos. Villarreal were competing much better than in the first half and showing more offensive punch, and seeing more of the ball.
With 20 minutes left, Zidane showed his frustration with the lack of goals, hauling off Bale and Isco for Asensio and Lucas. Madrid were frustrated, but still had chances—with 10 minutes left Luka Modric was set up perfectly at the top of the box but slammed his shot over everything.
Unal replaced Bacca, fresh legs up top; Casti came off for Rukavina. Madrid were getting frustrated, and with three minutes left Villarreal got the break they needed. It began with a Madrid corner which was cleared, Cheryshev nodded the ball forward, ran down the left and passed to Enes Unal, who appeared to be just onside. Navas blocked his shot, but the ball rebounded to Pablo Fornals, who chipped the keeper expertly.
Villarreal were able to ride out the last five minutes, with Daniele Bonera making a key intervention on the one really good chance Madrid had.
FT Real Madrid 0-1 Villarreal
To defeat Madrid (or Barcelona), you need a few things to go your way—and they did. Villarreal were definitely second best in the first half, but they competed much better in the second, and the longer the match went on, the more frustrated Madrid became and the more comfortable Villarreal looked. It really was an even match in the second half, which until recently would have been unthinkable at the Bernabeu.
The break Villarreal needed came with the pass to Unal—the linesman kept his flag down (I still haven’t seen a good angle, but at the time I thought he was on). And perhaps the telling point was that Pablito Fornals ran 80 yards up the pitch to be in the right place to chip that ball home, while the Madrid players, caught out of position with the break, jogged back.