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Villarreal pay the price against Alaves after Unai Emery rings changes

The Yellow Submarine are putting all their eggs in the Champions League basket

Deportivo Alaves v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander
Alaves were clinical despite Villarreal dominating
Photo by Ion Alcoba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Villarreal suffered another setback in their bid to land Europa League football with defeat to bottom club Alaves.

The Yellow Submarine remain behind sixth placed Real Sociedad after slipping up in the Basque Country at Saturday lunchtime.

Unai Emery made as many as eight changes ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg with Liverpool.

Only Samu Chukwueze, Dani Parejo and Pau Torres kept their place in the starting XI, and the changes proved too much for the Yellows.

Alaves took the lead when Victor Laguardia headed home a neat flick-on from Joselu following a corner.

And it was 2-0 on the 31st minute when Gonzalo Escalante turned home from close range. Samu Chukwueze will have been disappointed with his failure to close down in the build-up.

Deportivo Alaves v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander
Chukwueze netted despite a poor performance
Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Though, he made up for it after the break when he scored following a superb win.

The winger was helped by a big error from goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco, but it was a very impressive run to create the opportunity.

Villarreal continued their dominance as they continued to search for an equaliser, but clear-cut opportunities remained few and far between.

Substitute Paco Alcacer came close, only to be denied by Pacheco, and Giovani Lo Celso should have done better with the follow-up.

Alcacer managed another good effort with a minute of normal time remaining, but Pacheco was once again equal to it, saving low down.

Alaves put bodies on the line to see out a huge win and to secure a crucial lifeline in their bid to secure La Liga safety.

Meanwhile, Villarreal head into Tuesday’s second leg with Liverpool with fresh legs, and with the trend continuing.

They also lost the relegation threatened-teams in Cadiz and Levante between Champions League wins over Juventus and Bayern Munich.

It is more of the same here with the Champions League remaining the priority.

Meanwhile, the Yellows remain outside the top six, and even Conference League football is not guaranteed with Athletic Club lurking in eighth.