The 2012-13 season was Villarreal’s first in the Segunda since 1999-2000, and for those of us who experienced it—even from thousands of miles away—it was a roller coaster of emotion.
Marcelino took over as coach in late January, but we didn’t move into the promotion playoff places until early March, with a win at Cordoba. But by mid-April things were looking a lot better—we had won four of five (and drawn the other), and were coming off trouncings of Mirandes at Anduva and Numancia, at home.
Our next match was at Real Murcia, who were near the bottom of the table, and this was the first big “desplacement” of Villarreal faithful to follow their team. Something like 40 buses made the trip from Vila-real to Murcia for the “Yellow Invasion”:
Allo those fans wanted something to cheer about, but the problem was, Real Murcia refused to play along. My memories are of a dry and bouncy pitch, and Murcia doing their best to frustrate us at every turn, with lots of begging for fouls, time-wasting, and cynical play. Javier Aquino was injured midway through the first half and Juanma (remember him, anyone?) had to come on for him. And for whatever reason, our strikers—a young Gerard, a Jeremy Perbet—were having an off day.
Murcia took the lead through a goal just before halftime, officially credited as an own goal to Chechu Dorado after a shot from outside the box had hit the post and a Murcia player followed up with a shot Juan Carlos and Dorado couldn’t keep out.
One of the interesting sidebars here was that Murcia had a couple of ex-Villarreal cantera players in their starting XI, and one of them, Javier Matilla, was sent off in the 56th minute for a straight red, cynically kneeing ex-teammate Mateo Mussachio. Now Villarreal had a man advantage, and Marcelino brought in young Manu Trigueros as an attacking midfielder in place of the more defensive-minded Hector Canteros.
Trigueros was an interesting story, too—he had (after a brief bit at La Masia) played for Murcia’s B team, but was released. Villarreal picked him up, he played for our B team—then in the Segunda—in 2011-12, and then continued in the Segunda, now with our first team, though he wasn’t a regular starter at this point.
I remember watching the game it felt as though we were just pounding on the door, pounding on the door, and it wouldn’t open—meanwhile, Murcia were just flopping whenever they could, wasting time—which is why there were seven minutes of injury time played.
And then...well, I’ll let Manu Trigueros himself tell you about it: “It’s a moment that isn’t easy to forget. I remember than there were 3,000 fans who had travelled with us and it was a very important match as we were in a promotion battle. Luckily, I was able to make it 1-1 with a header in added time after an assist from my friend Jaume Costa. I’ll never forget that feeling. It was an extremely important goal and I was able to celebrate it with all the fans there.”
Manu scored at the death, a beautiful header after a cross from the left— I don’t know if he’s scored a header for us since! It had to be sweet to get it against the team that had let him go, too.
Why does this goal seem so big to me, seven years on? Mostly because, as Manu said, we had so many fans there and we all needed to believe. Getting a last-minute goal like that? Well, it felt like a win and must have made the trip home joyous and optimistic instead of the opposite for all those buses of fans. And this “Yellow Invasion” set us up for an even greater one, when we played Barcelona’s B team in the penultimate match of the season. But that’s another story.
Many thanks to the club for contacting Manu at my request, and getting his recollection of his goal for us. We wish him and family all the best!!!