Villarreal beat Real Valladolid with a goal from Jackson and a brace by Baena in the second half
Kicking off with a win in Pucela (0-3). Villarreal overcame Real Valladolid at the Estadio José Zorrilla. The Yellows outplayed the home side and, thanks to a brace from Álex Baena and a second-half goal from Nico Jackson, claimed three valuable points to open the league season with a sweet victory.
The Submarine started league championship with a visit to Valladolid. The objective was clear: to get the season off to a good start with a win away from home. To try to achieve this, Unai Emery put together a recognisable starting XI. The first line-up in an official match of the season was made up by Rulli in goal, Albiol, Pau, Foyth and Pedraza in defence; an engine room led by Parejo, Capoue, Yeremy and Coquelin; and an attacking front line with the presence of Gerard and Jackson.
During the first 45 minutes, Emery’s side subdued their opponents with good play and uncomfortable pressing. Villarreal spent a long time with the ball in the final third of the opposition half and had several chances to score. The best chance came from Yeremy Pino just before half-time. The winger received a pass into space from Gerard Moreno and unleashed a fierce shot that Sergio Asenjo saved brilliantly.
However, it was not until the fifth minute of the second half that the Submarine opened the scoring in Valladolid. Nicolas Jackson sent a fantastic ball from Yeremy into the back of the net, after the No.21 outmuscled his marauding opponent to put in a fabulous low cross from the right flank.
The Yellows’ goal sparked a reaction from Real Valladolid. The home team looked to the bench and the recently introduced Iván Sánchez had a double chance in his boots that Gero Rulli thwarted with great sobriety. The Argentinian goalkeeper first produced a great save to keep out a long-range effort, and immediately afterwards he was in the spotlight again, making another stop from the same player.
With Real Valladolid going on the attack in search of an equaliser, Emery introduced a double substitution. Baena and Samu Chukwueze came on to give the Yellows more directness and add more arguments on the counter-attack. In the 73rd minute, the Basque coach reaffirmed those ideas and brought on José Luis Morales to make his Villarreal debut in an official match.
With so many quick and vertical players on the pitch, the Submarine took advantage of the spaces to score the second goal. In a counter-attacking move, Baena scored a goal to give tranquility to Villarreal. He started the move with a long pass in the direction of Chukwueze, who controlled the ball, ran more than 20 yards and passed to the edge of the area for Baena to score with a perfectly placed low shot.
In the 90th minute, Baena put the finishing touches to the game with a stunning strike from the edge of the area. He reaffirmed his return to Villarreal with a long-range shot that left the crowd at the José Zorrilla stadium in awe. A spectacular start to a dream kick-off to the league for the Yellows.
Real Valladolid: S. Asenjo; L. Pérez, Joaquín F., J. El Yamiq, Escudero; Roque Mesa (Kike Pérez, m. 55), Monchu, Aguado; G. Plata (Iván Sánchez, m. 55), S. León (Gassama, m. 55), Toni Villa (Óscar Plano, m. 62).
Villarreal CF: Rulli; Foyth (Mandi, m. 88), R. Albiol, Pau, A. Pedraza; Yeremy (Chukwueze, m. 63), Capoue, Parejo, Coquelin (Álex B., m. 63); Gerard (A. J. Morales, m. 72), N. Jackson.
Goals: 0-1. Min. 49: N. Jackson. 0-2. Min. 82: Álex B. 0-3. Min. 90: Álex B.
Referee: Melero López. Booked: Roque Mesa (Villarreal CF).
Matchday information: Match between Real Valladolid CF and Villarreal CF, corresponding to LaLiga Santander Matchday 1, at the Estadio José Zorilla.