Villarreal continued their recent mastery over Atletico Madrid with a 2-1 vicotry at the Ceramica, courtesy of a couple of goals from set pieces late on. Atleti’s only goal came from a ridiculously given penalty on Antoine Griezmann....already on a yellow, the Frenchman was rewarded for an absurd dive in the box when he could—and should—have been sent off for a second bookable offense. (The referee was Fernández Borbálan, not exactly one of Spain’s most competent).
That first-half penalty was the talking point of a tight first half, though Koke hit a post and Villarreal had opportunities to dent the scoresheet as well.
Atleti were content after that to let Villarreal dictate the game (63% possession) while the Submarine had some nice interplay in midfield with Manu Trigueros pulling the strings, but unable to find a way through the visitors’ 4-4-2. Villarreal had a couple of good chances just after the hour mark; a Rodri takeaway led to a good chance, but Fornals couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet to get a good shot away; then moments later Carlos Bacca looked to be pulled down in the box as he attempted to get away a shot. To the ire of the fans and Villarreal players, nothing was called, the referee adjudging the defender was challenging for the ball legally.
Still, a Villarreal equalizer certainly looked possible, and it came in the 81st minute from the head of Enes Unal, who had replaced Fornals shortly before. It began with a corner kick from Samu Castillejo that was poor, but came back to him; he passed to Alvaro who put a nice cross into the box, and the young Turk’s header beat Oblak at his right post.
Then in injury time Thomas Partey tripped Manu Trigueros, and Samu’s free kick was poorly cleared by Diego Godin. The ball came to Daniele Bonera, who passed the ball to Unal, all alone on the keeper’s left. Oblak slid over but couldn’t stop the ball going in the net. Delirium in Vila-real, and what (considering the dodgy penalty that was Atleti’s only goal) had to be considered a deserved three points.
MOTM: Unal, of course.
Afterwards, Diego Simeone blamed himself for the loss, saying his substitutions and formation change to 4-5-1 cost them the match; his players disagreed, but it’s true they hardly attempted to attack much in the final hour of the match. Perhaps the small squad and the long trip back from Moscow played a factor.
Javi Calleja was of course happy with the win, if not the penalty that preceded it!
Villarreal return to action in two weeks against Malaga at the Rosaleda.