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Villarreal dispatch Celta, 4-1 in a wild one

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It wasn’t that one-sided, really.

Atletico Madrid v Villarreal - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Villarreal defeated Celta 4-1 in a must-win home match against Celta Vigo today in a rainy Ceramica Stadium, with a first-half hat-trick from Carlos Bacca and an injury-time goal from Samu Castillejo.

From the beginning this match was full of incident. Within thirty seconds Celta could have had a penalty when Victor Ruiz gave the ball away to the celeste and Sergio Asenjo pulled Daniel Wass down at the top of our penalty box. The referee decided contact had happened outside the box and awarded a free kick. Replays showed that wasn’t right, but Wass was probably offside too. Celta had already had three clear chances--and Carlos Bacca had hit the crossbar already for us—before Bacca opened the scoring in the 13th minute.

The opportunity came through a nice diagonal pass from Cheryshev to Bacca, and then triangular passing from Bacca to Rodri, Raba, and Bacca...but the Celta defense was simply ponderous and Bacca rounded the keeper to score easily.

Celta scored a goal from nothing twenty minutes later. Sergio ASenjo, who had already made a couple of spectacular saves from Maxi Gomez already, simply whiffed on a near-post shot from Pione Sisto. However, the lead lasted all of 23 seconds, Bacca finishing off a Rodri through-ball, and three minutes later Bacca tapped in a nice cross from Dani Raba after a Victor Ruiz long-ball led to another two-on-one break.

HT Villarreal 3-1 Celta

It could have been about 4-4—Dani Raba failed to put away a great chance when it was still 1-0, and Asenjo made a couple of flying saves. Fun to watch, as long as you’re not a manager.

The second half was a little more controlled, but still....Raba should have made it 4-1 shortly after the restart when Cheryshev gave him a perfect cross, but he poked the ball wide of the open goal. But, as so often happens after a wild, end-to-end first half, the pace flagged a bit in the second, and with both teams using their three substitutions beginning around the hour mark, neither team could really keep up the pressure. But then, concerted attempts to possess the ball for more than about ten seconds were pretty rare anyway.

But, the last ten minutes were more like the first half—Denis Cheryshev was set free but his chipped shot beat the keeper but went wide, and then moments later he hit the crossbar following up from a Ünal shot. The Turk was active at the other end, too, blocking an opportunity from a corner (possibly with his arm, it was difficult to tell). At any rate, it didn’t matter, and just before the three minutes of injury time were up Samu Castillejo notched Villarreal’s fourth after a fine pass from Pablo Fornals.

FT Villarreal 4-1 Celta Vigo

MOTM: Bacca, of course. But Castillejo and Cheryshev were fine too—if Chery had scored at least one of his opportunities it would have been fitting.

The fight for Europe: Betis 56, Villarreal 54; Sevilla 48, Getafe 48, Girona 47 (those two play each other tomorrow), Real Sociedad 46, Celta 45.