Pacheta’s Villarreal began with intent at La Cerámica on Sunday afternoon as Almería’s compact setup wasn’t enough to spoil the new manager’s welcome party.
It wasn’t a memorable game in terms of the performance as Villarreal looked languid throughout the majority of the game, lacking a degree of urgency, but the Yellow Submarine displayed enough intent towards the latter stages of the game to find the three points that the team so desperately needed.
Almería started extremely well, allowing Villarreal to control the possession but hitting the home side on the counter with pace and purpose. Luis Suárez emerged as the primary danger man, testing Filip Jörgensen on a couple of occasions early on.
Villarreal appeared to be relying on crosses into the box in the first half, but the service wasn’t close to being adequate enough to cause any problems for Luis Maximiano in the Almería goal.
At the cooling break, Pacheta asked for the ball to be moved at a quicker pace and he demanded that his team not give Almería as much time as they were enjoying once they won the ball back. He also asked Gerard to get on the ball more and drift into the spaces that Almería’s midfield was leaving in front of its defence.
Disaster struck on the stroke of half-time, however, as Akieme beat a lacklustre offside trap and powered a shot beyond Jörgensen. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Villarreal to equalise as Gerard Moreno picked up the scraps after a moment of pinballing in the Almería box and struck a smart left-footed effort on the swivel beyond Maximiano.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first, with Almería hitting well on the counter and Villarreal only finding a couple of half chances in the opening fifteen minutes. Comesaña and Alberto Moreno replaced Carlos Romero and Capoue around the hour mark, but it didn’t stop Villarreal from looking open at the back. A couple of last-ditch efforts from
Albiol, poor final strikes from Suárez and Melero, and Hollywood saves from Jörgensen kept the Yellow Submarine in the game.
The Yellow Submarine searched for the winner with greater intent with the substitute appearances of Ilias and Brereton-Díaz, and this added energy from Villarreal completely took the steam out of Almería’s attack, as they looked to have forfeited any offensive possibilities.
The late burst of tenacity proved to be extremely valuable as Sørloth managed to get the chance that he had been waiting for in injury time. Alberto Moreno swung in an absolutely delicious cross and the Viking did what he does best and headed home at the back post.
Gerard Moreno was deservedly named man of the match and he said after the game that he feels more comfortable than before in the new role that Pacheta has given him. When the team was lacking a spark throughout the game, Gerard Moreno was the only player in yellow that was showing promise going forward.
Regardless of the questionable performance during large portions of the game, the result on Sunday was critically needed, and hopefully, this win acts as a stepping stone for the games to come. Endavant!