Not great for your heart. Villarreal beat Girona by the smallest of margins, qualifying for the Copa del Rey quarter finals thanks to a Yeremy Pino goal (0-1). It was a tight match, which fell in the Yellows’ favour.
Unai Emery made changes to his starting XI. The front three, made up of Álex Baena, Fer Niño and Yeremy, was all made in the Yellows Academy. In fact, the three started the season as part of the Villarreal B squad, but have gained the Basque manager’s trust, to form part of the first team.
The Yellows started well. They went ahead with just 18 minutes on the clock. Baena crossed in from the right, Manu Trigueros got on the end, with a powerful shot from the edge of the box that hit the post, before Yeremy appeared to sent the ball into the back of the net, Opportunistic (0-1).
The Yellows took control of possession and pushed into the final third to create danger. Niño was close to scoring the second with a header from point-blank range than Muric saved miraculously (m.20). Trigueros also came close after getting on the end of Rubén Peña’s low cross, but the Yellows No.14 sent the ball over the bar.
Girona could have been left with ten men mintes later. Nahuel Bustos’s challenge on Peña was dangerous, and the referee, De Burgos Bengoetxea, decided that it was only a yellow, after a VAR review. Seconds later, the same player was involved with a challenge on Francis Coquelin, where his arm hit the Frenchman. The referee gave a foul, but decided against giving a second yellow.
There was bad news at the end of the first half, as Yeremy had to be substituted with an ankle injury. Alfonso Pedraza replaced him on the left wing.
In the second half, Girona pushed forward, looking for a draw. Sylla came close with an overhead kick, which was saved by Gerónimo Rulli’s cat-like reflexes (m.56). It was a great effort, and an even better save from the goalkeeper.
Emery brought on Paco Alcácer and Dani Parejo with an hour on the clock as he tried to regain control of the game.
Coquelin could have made it 0-2 in the 67th minute. Baena’s ball from the right was headed just wide of the post by the Frenchman. It was a great chance. The Yellows No.19 could have scored once more in the 80th minute. Pedraza got free down the left wing, played in a low cross , and Coquelin’s right-footed effort hit his own team-mate, Pervis Estupiñán. Bad luck.
Girona went for it, trying to take it to extra-time. The last few minutes were not great for Yellow ’fans’ hearts.
Next up for Villarreal is a league game against Real Sociedad at the Estadio de la Cerámica (Saturday, 9pm CET).
The quarter-final draw, this Friday
The quarter-final draw for the Copa del Rey will take place at the headquarters of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) this Friday (1pm CET). The eight winners from the Round of 16 will be in the draw, and there will be no seeding.
Girona FC: Muric; Arnau (Franquesa, m. 70), Santi Bueno, Ramalho, Yan Couto, Gumbau (Stuani, m. 81), Ibrahima Kébé, Valery, Yoel Bárcenas, Sylla, Nahuel Bustos (Samu Sáiz, m. 70).
Villarreal CF: Rulli; Rubén Peña, Funes Mori, Pau, Estupiñán (Dani Raba, m. 82); Coquelin, Capoue, Trigueros (Parejo, m. 61); Álex Baena (Moi Gómez, m. 82), Fer Niño (Paco Alcácer, m. 61), Yeremy (Pedraza, m. 31).
Goal: 0-1. Min. 18: Yeremy.
Referee: De Burgos Bengoetxea. Booked: Nahuel Bustos, Franquesa (Girona); Trigueros, Coquelin, Baena, Raba (Villarreal).