Yes, it was the Copa del Rey. Yes, we were playing mostly reserves. That said, the mental fragility and failure to hold on to a lead or press home an advantage that Villarreal has had all season continued.
After a forgettable first half, Almeria took the lead on a 48-minute penalty before Villarreal stormed back with three goals in 15 minutes courtesy of a Santi Cazorla golazo, an own goal and a Samu Chukwueze goal off a counterattack. At that point it was 3-1 Villarreal, seven minutes of regular time remained, and fans were leaving the stadium.
And...Almeria promptly scored off a corner sequence where the defense was all over the place and failed to clear the ball the one chance they had to, and then off another attack Sekou Gassama, who had scored their second goal, headed home again as Villarreal players appealed for offside (it wasn’t) or a foul on Gassama as he tussled with Victor Ruiz (possible, but would have been a cheap call—contact was not huge).
Villarreal had chances to win in the end but fluffed some good fast breaks. At least we didn’t lose, but it was not good preparation for a squad already struggling mentally. A repeat performance on Sunday will bring the sack for Calleja, I would think.
Excellent performances from Iturra, Santi Cazorla (he did miss a sitter in the first half, but his goal was excellent), and Quintillá, making his first-team debut at left back. Samu was very dangerous but too one-footed, which spoiled numerous opportunities.
Terrible from Pedraza (who came on as a substitute), Layun, Ruiz, and Mario Gaspar, who conceded the penalty. He was playing center back, but still. And Andrés Fernandez was worse, I’m afraid. He seemed totally inept and every time the ball came near him he offered no assurance he could keep it from going in the net.
Almeria’s Chema Nuñez, 21 year-old midfielder, was excellent btw.