clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Villarreal secure big victory to keep top four hopes alive

The Yellow Submarine cruised past Athletic Bilbao

Villarreal CF v Athletic Club - LaLiga Santander Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Villarreal were rampant as they saw off Athletic Bilbao at Estadio De La Ceramica to keep their hopes of Champions League qualification alive.

Braces from Alex Baena and Nicolas Jackson and an own goal from Aitor Paredes saw Villarreal secured a 5-1 victory, with Oihan Sancet scoring from the spot for the visitors.

It was an electric performance from Quique Setien’s side, who may have been spurred on by Real Sociedad’s dramatic draw with Girona earlier.

The results mean that Villarreal are just five points behind La Real, and both teams have four matches remaining.

A chaotic first half saw both keepers tested, as Reina saved from Nico Williams and Unai Simon made a number of fine stops to keep Villarreal at bay.

The home side eventually found the breakthrough as Baena placed a fine free-kick beyond Simon, before Jackson tapped in to double the lead.

Parejo gave away a penalty on the stroke of half-time to cause some nerves, as Sancet smashed past Reina to pull one back.

However, Villarreal reached a different level in the second half.

The attack was on fire, as Jackson, Yeremy and Baena caused the Athletic Club defenders nightmares. Jackson added another to his tally before Paredes accidentally sent the ball into his net in the 61st minute.

A number of substitutions were made, with Gerard and Lo Celso failing to score after finding themselves in promising positions, but Baena eventually found the bottom corner to round off an impressive victory.

Villarreal travel to Girona next, before a home tie against Cadiz and a tough trip to face Rayo Vallecano before the final-day clash with Atletico Madrid.

If the Yellows can continue these fine attacking displays, then a Champions League spot could present itself, but whilst this is unlikely, they can take some solace that a Europa League spot, and the club’s highest league finish since 2020, is all but secure.

Villarreal recorded an astonishing 11 shots on target, with an xG total of 3.26 as per FotMob. There were plenty of contenders, but Nicolas Jackson was the player of the match given his fine display as he continued his excellent form in front of goal.