Villarreal B advance to the second round of the Segunda playoffs following a 0-2 home loss to Athletic Club B. The visitors equalized the tie on aggregate with two goals within twenty minutes, both of them variations on the same theme—a nervous Villarreal defense only prodded the ball beyond our penalty area, where a Bilbao player slammed a golazo past our keeper.
Bilbao hit the post before halftime, too, and the only real chance VIllarreal had were a couple of shots wide from Samuel, plus a yellow to him for an obvious dive. Clearly changes had to be made at halftime, and there were.
Dario Poveda came on and Villarreal went to a 4-4-2, which worked much better. Athletic Club keeper Simón made a couple of big saves and pushed a shot against the post, and the Yellows had a couple of other good chances. To be honest, Bilbao didn’t really create a lot of opportunities, but the physical nature of the match meant that there were lots of stoppages.
Surviving the 90 minutes of regular time was bad enough, but then Villarreal had to also survive five minutes of injury time—which was really six and a half given yet more stoppages. Bilbao’s last chance was a hopeful ball cleared by the Villarreal defense; Pau and Benito, who had been engaged in quite a physical matchup all day, elbowed and shoved each other, and for a moment it looked as if Bilbao’s frustration—and the intensity shown by both sides—would result in some ugly scenes. However, cooler heads prevailed.
Villarreal’s too-tactical approach in the first half nearly cost us, just as Bilbao’s approach in their home leg nearly cost them. It’s a pity really that either one of these teams had to go out at this stage, because both looked awfully good at various times during this tie.
If Celta B defeat Marbella tomorrow (they have a 2-0 lead already from the away leg), no draw will be needed for the next round. Villarreal will play Fuenlabrada, a Madrid-area team who have never made it to the Segunda. They were in the playoffs last year as well, but went out at the first hurdle. They finished third in their group this season.