Unai Emery decided to ring the changes for the trip to Andalusia to face Cadiz, with a number of key players rested, while Raul Albiol and Serge Aurier were left at home.
Villarreal lacked intensity throughout in difficult conditions, with stormy weather continuing to cover Spain’s East and South coasts.
The Yellow Submarine didn’t manage a single shot in the first half, and while they were defensively solid, Emery’s men couldn’t produce anything at the other end of the pitch, even after the introductions of Arnaut Danjuma and Gerard Moreno, managing just one shot in the whole game.
One of the best chances fell to the home side and Ruben Alcaraz, but Sergio Asenjo, who came in for Geronimo Rulli here, produced a brilliant save.
There were few other clear-cut chances, and Villarreal looked as though they were going to have to settle for a disappointing point away to a relegation-threatened Cadiz.
But it got even worse one minute into stoppage time when Lucas Perez whipped in a fine ball for Ruben Sobrino to tap in at the far post.
Sobrino slipped his marker, Alfonso Pedraza, who should have done a lot better.
A huge slip-up for Villarreal, who now lose ground in the race for a European spot.
Thankfully for Emery’s men, top six rivals Real Betis also drew today, while Real Sociedad have a difficult task against Sevilla.
But this was a big opportunity missed, and with Atletico Madrid winning on Saturday, it has left the Yellows’ top four hopes looking pretty slim.
Villarreal now enter the international break, when they will look to rest up ahead of the final stretch after a busy period of late.