Highlights are here.
A tale of two halves—Villarreal were poor in the first half but much better in the second, while Rayo didn’t offer much for the entire match, to be honest. Their goal came from a cross off a short corner after 20 minutes, but they never looked like doing much else.
(1) It’s a lot easier to win when your strikers score!!!
Villarreal’s man of the match was certainly Toko Ekambi by virtue of his two goals—the first he was in the right place at the right time for, as a cross was deflected by Velazquez right to him. But still he had to finish from close range, and he did—it was a reaction goal. His second came from a fine pass by Iborra and the keeper left him too much room at the near post, and he fired it home. A goal that a CONFIDENT striker scores.
And speaking of confidence, Gerard Moreno’s run and finish—that wasn’t the Gerard we’ve seen earlier this year, that was the Gerard we thought we were getting from Espanyol. Beautiful. (And a great pass from Morlanes, too).
(2) Rayo offered virtually nothing going forward. Raul de Tomás was a non-factor, as was pretty much everyone else who played in attack for them—the exception was Bebé, who took 4 of their 7 shots.
(3) Normally when we’re hot (four wins in a row if you count EL) , I’d say having a week off wouldn’t be a good thing, but in this case we need it. Jaume Costa and Vicente Iborra came off with injuries—Costa’s is a hamstring and he’ll be unable to return for Celta in all probability. Iborra is hopefully OK or at least something minor where the week’s rest will help.
(4) Our central triumvurate all picked up yellow cards today—for Ramiro Funes Mori, I think he is therefore suspended for Celta, unless one of the five yellows he’s picked up since his last suspension was overturned and I don’t know about it. If Daniele Bonera can come back against Celta, that would be great, otherwise we may have to draft Mario Gaspar in as a centerback.
(5) This was a huge win given the surprising win Valladolid got at Eibar earlier today. When La Liga resumes after the break, here are the key relegation matches (home team first):
Saturday Celta Vigo-Villarreal
A Villarreal win would open up a big lead over Celta; a draw would still give them the tiebreak but keep them 4 points behind. It’s hard to see Rayo or Huesca getting anything next week. So it’s really a chance for Villarreal (and Valladolid) to keep playing well and get out of the relegation zone, and if Levante doesn’t beat Eibar, they’ll be knocked into it.
For what it’s worth, FiveThirtyEight.com is really low on Celta, showing them with a 70% chance of relegation, Huesca and Rayo about 80%. (Our chance is down to 21%; Valladolid’s is 26%). I’ll feel better about that if we can pick up at least a point in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, enjoy the week off, and enjoy the back-to-back league wins FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS SEASON. Wow. Endavant Villarreal!!