Late strikes from Gerard Moreno and Yeremi Pino for Villarreal were enough for the Yellow Submarine to secure their first win over Atletico Madrid in eight league games, as the visitors came out on top 2-0 at the Civitas Metropolitano in La Liga.
Villarreal proved to be the team that were on top for much of the first period, and Unai Emery’s side thought they had taken the lead in the 33rd minute.
A free-kick from deep by Dani Parejo towards the back post was met by a diving header by Juan Foyth, who sent the ball back into the centre of the area for Gerard Moreno, who then rattled the crossbar from a couple of yards out. The forward subsequently got the rebound into the net, but the referee ruled out the goal for handball by the striker.
The home side grew into the game in the second half, but it was Unai Emery’s team who eventually broke the deadlock with just over fifteen minutes to play.
Yeremi Pino capitalised on a lapse in concentration from Atletico wing-back Nahuel Molina to send a shot into the bottom-left corner beyond Jan Oblak.
Los Colchoneros thought they had levelled it just seven minutes later, as Yannick Carrasco’s effort from a couple of yards out was spectacularly saved on the goal-line by Geronimo Rulli. Seconds earlier, Matheus Cunha’s header crashed off the bar.
Molina’s evening went from bad to worse as he was sent off for violent conduct after elbowing the back of Alex Baena’s head in stoppage time.
Villarreal added a second through Gerard Moreno to secure a priceless victory.
TALKING POINT – ATLETICO DO NOT TAKE LATE CHANCES, AND LOSE THEIR HEADS
Coming up against Villarreal was always going to be a tough proposition coming into the game, especially as the sides played out consecutive 2-2 draws in La Liga last season. Villarreal were on top in the first half, and even had a goal ruled out. Atleti were struggling to find ideas, but in the second half, Diego Simeone’s side stepped up their attacking impetus.
The home side will definitely be kicking themselves with the chances they did not take in the ten minutes after Villarreal broke the deadlock. Rulli’s save from Carrasco was outstanding, but, moments before, Matheus Cunha’s header hit the crossbar. In terms of expected goals output, Atletico amassed a value of 2.07 xG, showing that they had created some huge openings.
However, after those chances were spurned, the game turned ugly. As we have seen before with Diego Simeone’s team, several players lost their heads in stoppage time. It ultimately resulted in Nahuel Molina getting a deserved straight red card for a shocking elbow on Alex Baena, as the Villarreal substitute tried to waste time. A disappointing night all round for Los Colchoneros.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – GERONIMO RULLI
The 30-year-old may have had a lot of question marks surrounding him going into this season at Villarreal after his horror show in last season’s Champions League semi-final against Liverpool. Tonight, however, the Argentine has repaid the faith that Unai Emery has shown in him.
In total, Rulli made five saves and four claims, but one of them stands out more than the rest as it prevented a certain goal for Atletico Madrid.
Seven minutes after Villarreal’s opener, Rulli made an outstanding save from Yannick Carrasco on his line to keep the ball out, when it looked harder to miss. It surely has to be up there with one of the best saves he has made in his career.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak 7, Savic 6, Witsel 7, Reinildo 7, Carrasco 6, Molina 4, Koke 7, Lemar 6, Llorente 6, Morata 7, Felix 6. Subs: de Paul 6, Correa 6, Griezmann 6, Gimenez 6, Cunha 6.
Villarreal: Rulli 8, Foyth 7, Torres 7, Albiol 7, Pedraza 7, Lo Celso 6, Capoue 6, Parejo 7, Pino 7, Jackson 6, Moreno 7. Subs: Coquelin 6, Chukwueze 6, Baena 6, Morales 6.
33’ – GOAL WON’T COUNT! – Villarreal have a goal ruled out due to handball! A deep free-kick is whipped in from Parejo, and the delivery is sublime. It finds Foyth at the back post, and he heads it back for Moreno in the centre. The forward hits it first-time, but somehow his effort from a few yards out cannons back off the bar! Oblak scrambles to get hold of the ball at the rebound, but Moreno puts it in, but, crucially, with the help of his arm. The referee gives a free-kick to Atleti.
73’ – GOAL! (Yeremi Pino) – Yeremi Pino strikes! A corner comes in from the right from Parejo, and the first contact is cleared. However, the ball drops back for a Villarreal defender, who launches a looped long ball upfield. Molina fails to deal with it, and it drops for Pino inside the area. He fires a shot into the bottom-left corner to give his side the lead against the run of play!
80’ – WHAT A SAVE! – This is on the level of David Seaman’s wonder save for Arsenal against Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi-final! How did the Argentine keep that one out? Atleti attack, as Griezmann’s cross from the right is met by Carrasco, who volleys it for Cunha to meet with his head. The Brazilian heads it onto the crossbar from not far out at all, but the rebound drops right into the path of Carrasco. The effort sees the home fans and players celebrate, but Rulli makes an astonishing save to claw the ball out and away from the line! VAR confirms that the ball did NOT cross the line. Incredible.
90+4’ – RED CARD! – What was Molina thinking there! The youngster has landed himself in serious trouble with the referee as he shoves Baena from behind as he tries to get the ball back. He then shoves Baena right at the back of the head with an elbow, and the referee has no option but to dismiss him.
90+7’ GOAL! (Gerard Moreno) – Moreno deals the killer blow! With Atleti a man down, and with nobody in the centre of the pitch, Pedraza charges from one side of the pitch to another, before laying it off for the forward inside the area. He takes a touch to set himself before placing a nice shot into the bottom corner that Oblak cannot keep out!