Villarreal beat Slavia Prague and go top of Group A in the Europa League
Three vital points. Villarreal picked up a very important win at the home of SK Slavia Prague which makes them leaders of Group A of the UEFA Europa League with two matches left to play. Carlos Bacca scored the first goal with an acrobatic strike from insde the box and the decisive second came in the final minutes, courtesy of an own goal by Simon Deli.
It was a special match for the Czech club, as it was their 125th anniversary. Villarreal were not at all intimidated by the spectacular atmosphere inside the Eden Arena though, dominating the match in the opening minutes. Rodrigo, Fornals, Trigueros and Soriano linked up perfectly, looking to play the ball forward so Bakambu and Bacca could cause problems. In defence, the Yellows were solid.
The opening goal came in the 14th minute. The Submarine knocked the ball around nicely and Fornals played the ball out to the right wing, there Soriano picked it up and put a cross into the box, where Slavia goalkeeper Lastuvka made a fine save but Bacca jumped on the rebound, literally, firing an acrobatic volley into the back of the net (0-1). What a goal!
The goal spurred on the Villarreal attack. And the chances just kept on coming. Trigueros and Bacca both came so close to netting the second in the 22nd minute from a Bakambu ball in. Carlos Bacca could not have come any closer with his effort, as he got in front of his defender but sent the ball over the bar from close range.
The game seemed to be under control. Calleja’s side dominated the possession, but Slavia were waiting for their chance. And they had it just before the break, but Barbosa made a fantastic save to keep the home side at bay.
In the second half, Villarreal were made to suffer. Slavia Prague pushed forward in search of the equaliser but could not get through the Yellows solid defence and the magnificent Mariano Barbosa, undoubtedly one of the players of the night. The Yellows goalkeeper made a fantastic save from Soucek’s shot as the Eden Arena had already started to celebrate. Just brilliant!
Villarreal had enough chances to sentence the match. Fornals had a great shot with his left foot, from a Soriano pass, but his effort skimmed the crossbar. Unlucky. Then it was Bacca’s turn again. The Colombian striker received an inside pass from Fornals and the number 9 struck the ball brilliantly, but his effort went wide of the mark by centimetres.
The Submarine’s second goal of the match finally came in the 88th minute. Cheryshev set off down the left wing and put a fantastic driven ball into the box which Slavia centre back, Simon Deli, tried to clear from Sansone’s path but ended up putting the ball into his own net instead.
Villarreal came away with three points from the Eden Arena, making them leaders of Group A in the UEFA Europa League. The Yellow Submarine’s next European clash will be against Astana in Kazakhstan. Another decisive match that will be played on Thursday 23rd November (9:05pm).
SK Slavia Praha: Lastuvka; Boril, Jugas, Simon Deli, Sobol; Hromada (Ngadeu-Ngadjui, m. 46), Danny (Van Buren, m. 63), Soucek; Sykora (Skoda, m. 79), Stoch and Necid.
Villarreal CF: Barbosa; Mario, Álvaro, Víctor Ruiz, Adrián Marín; Soriano (Sansone, m. 83), Rodrigo, Trigueros, Fornals (Cheryshev, m. 66); Bakambu and Bacca (Chuca, m. 72).
Goals: 0-1. Min. 14: Bacca. 0-2. Min. 88: Simon Deli, own goal.
Referee: Bobby Madden (Scotland). Cautioned: Boril for Slavia and Bakambu for Villarreal.
Match Information: Match corresponding to Matchday 4 of the Group stage of the UEFA Europa League played at the Eden Arena in Prague in front of 18,403 fans.