Villarreal lost to Real Sociedad in a direct battle for European spots come the end of the season and missed their chance to stamp their passport on the pitch this evening. Willian José and Llorente scored for the Basque outfit and Cazorla for the Yellows, in a game that was affected by the absence of the Submarine’s regular starters.
Javi Calleja set up with a 4-2-3-1 with former Academy youngster Fer Niño up top. Due to Gerard Moreno’s suspension, Carlos Bacca’s injury and muscular pain keeping out Paco Alcácer, who was on the bench, the young forward started the game.
The first chance of the game fell to the side from San Sebastian. Isak controlled the ball with his chest and fired a shot at goal that was met by a spectacular save from Asenjo. Fantastic from the Yellows no.1.
The Submarine responded through Ontiveros. The attacker from Marbella got by three Real Sociedad defenders in a piece of brilliant individual play but his shot was saved. Half an hour into the game, the Yellows no.24 struck again, this time with a powerful, dipping shot from a direct free kick that Moyá had to get his whole body behind to keep out.
It was a very even game and the chances came equally for both teams to mirror that. Cazorla hit a great right-footed shot that brushed the far post and moments later Isak’s header provoked another feline-like, stretching save from Asenjo.
Javi Calleja put Samu Chukwueze on in the second half and Villarreal changed to play without a centre forward. With the Nigerian attacking high, Moi Gómez, Cazorla and Ontiveros acted as shields just behind him.
Real Sociedad scored in the 60th minute. It was Willian José who broke the deadlock beating Asenjo with a header at the far post from a corner kick.
The game increased in intensity. This could be seen in the hard challenge on Chukwueze by Le Normand, prompting the referee to pull out a yellow card for the Frenchman. Immediately following that tackle, Real Sociedad had a chance to sentence the game on a counterattack that finished with Zubeldia’s shot kept out by another unbelievable save from Asenjo, this time with his foot.
The visitors did make it two in the 74th minute though. Another corner kick was headed into the back of the net by Llorente to the despair of the Yellows and the ‘groguets’ watching at home. Hope for the comeback came with Cazorla’s goal in the 84th minute. The Yellows no.8 hit a bullet of a shot into the bottom corner and it was game on. However, despite the excitement of the final minutes and a possible penalty for a pull on Albiol that was not called, the scoreline didn’t budge.
Villarreal’s next match is against Real Madrid at the Alfredo Di Stéfano stadium (Thursday, 9pm CEST).
Villarreal CF: Asenjo; Rubén Peña, Albiol, Pau, Alberto Moreno; Anguissa, Trigueros (Baena, m. 75); Moi Gómez (Bruno, m. 61), Cazorla, Ontiveros (Mario Gaspar, m. 88); and Fer Niño (Chukwueze, m. 46).
Real Sociedad: Moyá; Gorosabel, Llorente, Le Normand, Monreal (Aihen, m. 85); Zubimendi, Merino; Oyarzabal, Odegaard (Zubeldia, m. 64), Barrenetxea (Portu, m. 52); and Isak (Willian José, m. 46).
Goals: 0-1. Min. 60: Willian José. 0-2. Min. 74: Llorente. 1-2. Min. 84: Cazorla.
Referee: Cuadra Fernández. Booked: Trigueros and Ontiveros for Villarreal; Merino and Le Normand for Real Sociedad.
Information: Match corresponding to LaLiga Matchday 36 played at the Estadio de la Cerámica.