A winning start. New Villarreal boss Luis García started his time on the Yellows bench with an impressive victory against Spartak Moscow, a result which meant the Yellow Submarine qualified for the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 as leader of Group G. The goals from Samu Chukwueze and Karl Toko Ekambi were key.
The first lineup of García at Villarreal was a 4-4-2, with Santi Cáseres and Javi Fuego in a double pivot and Chukwueze and Pablo Fornals on the wing. Up front, it was Gerard Moreno and Toko Ekambi.
The Yellow Submarine got an early strike in. With ten minutes gone, Gerard shot, the ball bounced around in defence, before falling to Chukwueze's feet. The Nigerian beat his marker easily, and put the ball out of the reach of the Spartak goalkeeper at the far post.
Spartak Moscow reacted quickly, looking for the equaliser, making Andrés Fernández spring into action. He first pulled off a great save after a Zé Luis header, and then kept out Hanni from point-blank range. Villarreal were able to keep them out before the break.
After the interval, the goal to make it 2-0 came quickly. Toko Ekambi and Fornals were involved in a great one-two, which ended with the Yellows No.17 striking the ball home. The goal calmed the team.
The Russian side did not throw in the towel though. In fact, Zé Luis’ header struck the post. Villarreal also hit the woodwork moments later as Cáseres’ sliding shot bounced back off the crossbar.
Villarreal played the final minutes of the match with a man down after Jaume Costa was sent off in the 89th minute, but the scoreline did not budge.
Villarreal have always progressed from the Group Stage
With tonight’s qualification for the Round of 36, this makes it the seventh time that Villarreal have made it past the Group Stage of the UEFA Europa League. That is, every time they have played in the competition. What’s more, on this occasion they are going through as top of the group, something that they only achieved in the 2010-2011 and 2017-2018 seasons. Great job!
The draw, Monday 17th December
Villarreal will find out their opponents for the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 next Monday 17th December. The draw will be held in Nyon (Switzerland) at 1pm.
Villarreal CF: Andrés Fernández; Mario Gaspar, Álvaro, Víctor Ruiz, Jaume Costa; Chukwueze (Cazorla, m. 79), Javi Fuego, Cáseres, Fornals; Toko Ekambi (Bacca, m. 70), Gerard Moreno (Pedraza, m. 75).
FC Spartak: Maksimenko; Rasskazov, Kutepov, Dzhikiya, Melgarejo; Lomovitski (Tashaev, m. 54), Popov, Glushakov, Hanni (Pedro Rocha, m. 66); Luiz Adriano (Jano Ananidze, m. 73), Zé Luis.
Goals: 1-0. Min. 10: Chukwueze. 2-0. Min. 47: Toko Ekambi.
Referee: Andris Treimanis (LVA). Booked: Álvaro, Andrés Fernández (Villarreal); Lomovitski, Zé Luis, Dzhikiya, Kutepov (FC Spartak). Sent off: Jaume Costa (Villarreal, m. 89).
Matchday information: Matchday 6 of the UEFA Europa League at the Estadio de la Cerámica, with an attendance of 12,903.