Monday, 24 January 2011
Match Report: Villarreal 2 Real Sociedad 1
FT: Villarreal 2 (Rossi 40, 47) - Real Sociedad 1 (Aranburu 30)
Villareal kept up their excellent home record this season with a 2-1 win over fellow entertainers Real Sociedad.
Giuseppe Rossi was the key man with a goal either side of half-time but the yellow submarines comeback owed a lot to the returning Santi Cazorla.
The visitors had started brightly with Joseba Llorente looking particularly dangerous against his former club. At the other end Cazorla was the main creator and he nearly broke the deadlock on 12 minutes with a trademark sweet strike that just missed the target. The Spanish international's influence even more important given that Cani was slightly below par, adopting a shoot on sight policy a little too often after his stunning strike from the halfway line last weekend.
Further forward Rossi was his usual busy self dropping deep and wide to provide an option. However, his manager, Juan Carlos Garrido, will be hoping for quick return to action for Nilmar as the pair's combination play has not been replicated in recent weeks with Marco Ruben in the side. The Argentine hasn't done badly, indeed he has scored in four consecutive appearances before Wednesday's 3-0 defeat to Sevilla in the Copa Del Rey, but he also appears to be tiring after his first extended run in the side.
The influence of Cazorla, Borja Valero (who put in another solid display) and Bruno also helped to minimise the threat of La Real's two outstanding performers this season, Xabi Prieto and Antoine Griezmann. However, the visitors did take the lead, slightly against the run of play, on the half hour. Daniel Estrada's deep cross from the right was headed back across goal by Llorente and Mikel Aranburu guided a wonderful header, high past the right hand of Diego Lopez.
The lead only lasted 10 minutes thanks to wonderful play from Cazorla. The Asturian robbing the ball from Markel Bergara before driving forward and playing a wonderfully weighted pass through the heart of the defence for Rossi to smash home.
The two were at it again two minutes after the break to give the hosts the lead. Cazorla again showing his aggressive side to win the ball 40 yards from goal, the ball through again spectacular to allow the Italian striker to get the vital touch over the on-rushing Claudio Bravo.
However, to eulogise Cazorla's passing in the build up is in no way meant to denigrate Rossi's finishing ,on both occasions, was exceptional. His two goals taking his tally for the season to 19. The American born Italian has been one of the players of the season so far and would almost certainly be the first name on the teamsheet of a non Barcelona or Real-Madrid XI of the season so far...oh wait, bugger, our bad.
Rossi's second was to be the end of the scoring but it was by no means the end of the action. Cazorla rattled the woodwork before Jeffrey Sarpong was booked for diving - replays showing that the Dutchman had a good case for a penalty and was extremely unlucky to see a yellow card.
The Basque side threw everyone forward in an attempt to salvage a point but in truth they only succeeded in opening up spaces for Villarreal on the counter-attack who could have added to their slender advantage.
There was even more good news for the yellow submarine with the return of World Cup winner Carlos Marchena for the final quarter.
Victory for Garrido's men sees them move back above Valencia into third place in the table. It may even allow the coach to justify his somewhat bizarre selection for the return leg of the Copa Del Rey quarter-final against Sevilla. With financial pressures to take account of it is of far more importance for the yellow submarine to guarantee Champions League qualification for next season. However, I will not be the sole onlooker who feels slightly robbed at not seeing another two games between Real Madrid and Villarreal in the semi-finals.
Defeat for La Real sees them slip back into the pack in mid-table, still five points adrift of a Europa League qualification spot.