Villarreal lost against FC Barcelona at the Estadio de la Cerámica (1-4) and ended a spectacular run of results which had seen them get five wins and a draw since the restart of LaLiga. Despite the result, the Yellows stay fifth in the table and continue to dream of playing in Europe next season.
Javi Calleja made five changes from the team that beat Real Betis at the Villamarín. Mario Gaspar came in at right-back, while Samu Chukwueze, Vicente Iborra and Santi Cazorla started in midfielder, and Paco Alcácer accompanied Gerard Moreno up front. Barça threw everything at it with their lineup, with Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Antoine Griezmann as an attacking trident.
The Catalan side went ahead with just over two minutes on the clock. Jordi Alba escaped down the left and his low cross towards Griezmann was put into his own net by Pau Torres. Real bad luck.
The game was frenetic. Villarreal drew level in the 14th minute. Chukwueze played a pass to Alcácer, and the Valencian defender sent Cazorla through on goal, with his shot being parried by Marc-André Ter Stegen. Gerard was first to the rebound and sent it into the back of the net (1-1). It was the Catalan striker's 16th goal this LaLiga season. In all competitions, he has a total of 18 including the two he scored in the Copa del Rey. Not bad at all.
The head-to-head nature of the game was incessant. Barça once more went ahead on the scoreboard. Messi played it to Suárez, whose right-footed effort went over Asenjo into the top corner (1-2, m-19). Unstoppable.
One of the worst bits of the first half for Villarreal was Alcácer's injury, with the striker having to leave the pitch to be replaced by Carlos Bacca after muscular discomfort. The Colombian striker came off the bench and had a chance to level things up, but was stopped by a great Ter Stegen save.
It was just before half-time when Barcelona made it 1-3 after a fantastic Griezmann dink after another Messi assist. The away side were showing off their attacking arsenal.
Calleja made two more changes at half-time. Bruno Soriano and Moi Gómez came on for Iborra and Gerard. Villarreal tried to get into the game, but Barcelona continued dominating the ball.
The next piece of bad luck was Bacca's injury. The Colombian, who came on for Alcácer in the first half, also had to go off with muscular discomfort. Youngster Fer Niño became the man who was leading the line.
The Yellows tried everything possible, and Barça also had their chances, with Asenjo making a number of notable saves.
The last goal of the game came from Ansu Fati, with the youngster scoring at the near post (1-4).
Next up for Villarreal is an away trip to Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez (Wednesday, 8:30pm CEST).
Villarreal CF: Asenjo; Mario Gaspar, Albiol, Pau, Alberto Moreno; Chukwueze, Anguissa, Iborra (Bruno, m. 46), Cazorla (Trigueros, m. 55); Gerard (Moi Gómez, m. 46), Paco Alcácer (Bacca, m. 35 (Fer Niño, m. 69)).
FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen; N. Semedo (Rakitic, m. 59), Piqué (Araújo, m. 81), Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Sergi Roberto, Sergio Busquets (Braithwaite, m. 71), Arturo Vidal; Messi, Luis Suárez (Riqui Puig, m. 59), Griezmann (Ansu Fati, m. 71).
Goals: 0-1. Min. 2: Pau, (OG). 1-1. Min. 14: Gerard. 1-2. Min. 19: Luis Suárez. 1-3. Min. 44: Griezmann. 1-4. Min. 86: Ansu Fati.
Referee: Del Cerro Grande. Booked: Pau (Villarreal).
Matchday information: LaLiga Matchday 34 at the Estadio de la Cerámica.