Villarreal concluded their preseason with a 4-3 win over Bologna in a match that felt very much like an end-of-preseason friendly, which it pretty much was—Villarreal host Granada in the first game that matters next Saturday, while Bologna have a Coppa Italia match next weekend and then Serie A starts after that.
So, let’s see. The match was played in the grandly named “Stadio Olimpico di Serravalle” in the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, so Villarreal adds another country to its bucket list!
The ground is surrounded by a running track, which is always bad, but it seemed there were a lot of Bologna fans there and everyone seemed to have a good time.
Villarreal took the lead in the sixth minute through a Moi Gomez stab into goal, off a cross from Toko Ekambi, but Bologna equalized ~20 minutes later following a Villarreal turnover, captain-at-the-time Palacio picking up the ball at the top of the box and banging a low shot home off Sergio Asenjo’s far post.
That was the score up until the hour mark, when Samu Chukwueze was introduced for Vicente Iborra and immediately began to torment the Italians’ defense. Almost immediately he won a free kick which was expertly dispatched by Santi Cazorla, and then five minutes later he collected a pass from Ruben Peña, beat the first challenge, ran into the box, deked the two centerbacks, and finished to the keeper’s short side.
Bologna drew level, surprisingly enough, first through a shot from Paraguayan striker Santander that Sergio Asenjo will feel he should have kept out (as he should) and then through a rather nice headed goal from defender Tomiyasu off a free kick. It should not have counted, because he was well offside, but we didn’t have any VAR today.
Gerard Moreno scored a golazo of his own with five minutes left to give Villarreal the deserved win, cutting inside to his left foot and banking a shot in off corner formed by the upright and left goalpost.
MOTM: Samu Chukwueze. He didn’t start today but expect him to next week.