Villarreal put it together today and swept aside Sevilla, 3-0 with goals from Alvaro, Toko Ekambi, and Alfonso Pedraza. The Submarine started well—Santi Cazorla pulled the strings in midfield, Vicente Iborra got forward rather more than he has in recent games, and the strike pairing of Toko Ekambi and Carlos Bacca was mobile and linked together very well.
The first goal came off a Santi corner kick, with Alvaro diving to head the ball home. After that Villarreal sat back a bit too much—or perhaps Sevilla decided they needed to try a little more offense—and Asenjo had to make a fine intervention from Munir, and then another chance (set up by an uncalled Roque Mesa handball...there would have been hell to pay if that one had been allowed) was blazed over the bar.
The referee, Gonzalez Gonzalez, had a horrible half. He booked Toko Ekambi for a handball which was completely accidental (he stretched to reach a pass and hit his shot off his hand), but missed Roque Mesa’s intervention. His criteria for yellow cards were a bit odd—Victor Ruiz was lucky to escape with nothing for one of his scythe-type tackles.
In the first minute of two minutes of injury time (partly because Daniele Bonera pulled a muscle and had to be replaced by Funes Mori) Villarreal worked a wonderful move down the left, with Carlos Bacca’s backheel prodded home—just inside the keeper’s right post—with the net totally open. Toko E surely thought he’d missed it, as he didn’t celebrate and started to put his hands on his hips! But it went in.
HT Villarreal 2-0 Sevilla
Sevilla made two substitutions at halftime, with Ben Yedder and Sarabia coming on—and threw men forward in an attempt to pull one back. Villarreal were on the back foot, and Asenjo made a fine save from Sarabia to keep the scoreline the same after about five minutes.
Our 3-5-2 was more like a 5-3-2 now, as we sat back and looked for the counterattacks. Alfonso Pedraza made a fine run and had a shot saved at one end, the Sevilla had a chance at the other. Sevilla now had pretty much all of their attacking players on the pitch, and Villarreal took off Bacca after 67 minutes in favor of Pablo Fornals, and Santy Caseres came off after 75 minutes for Manu Morlanes.
After the first 15-20 minutes of the half, Villarreal began to have a bit more possession, and seemed to be pretty calm dealing with some half-chances. Basically it was cross, clear, pass, intercepted, clear, rinse and repeat!
Sevilla had their best chance with ten minutes left, but Funes Mori (who had recently been yellow carded) blocked a shot off the line, though it probably would have been waved off for offside anyhow.
After 86 minutes Morlanes fed Pedraza and he used Toko Ekambi as a decoy and fired home. TK hit the far post minutes later, and the match ended without further incident.
FT Villarreal 3-0 Sevilla
A win we sure needed. But it’s only worth it if we build on it. Current standings: Athletic Bilbao, Girona 27; Valladolid 26; Celta 24; Villarreal 23, Rayo 23, Huesca 18. (Athletic and Huesca play Monday).