Villarreal took the lead in Brussels with a goal from Trigueros, but Dreyer equalised for Anderlecht
The Submarine drew 1-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Europa Conference League round of 16 tie against RSC Anderlecht. Manu Trigueros gave the visitors the lead in the first half, but Dreyer equalised for the Belgians from outside the box, meaning the tie will be decided at the Estadio de la Cerámica.
Villarreal started the game imposing a high tempo to which the Belgian side seemed to adapt perfectly. The main surprise in the starting eleven was the presence of young Yellows Academy striker Jorge Pascual. The teenager had been called up for the previous two LaLiga games, but saw his chance to make his debut in an official clash in the continental competition, joining José Luis Morales and Samu Chukwueze in attack.
The Nigerian, displaying his skill and power, was the one who caused the most problems for the home defenders. The attacker himself was the player who had the first great chance of the game after Morales recovered the ball in the opposition half and Baena’s brilliant final pass.
It was him involved in the goal at the half-hour mark. Chukwueze found Trigueros alone at the far post, who had time to bring the ball down and beat Verbruggen with both quality and calmness. With the result in the Yellows’ favour, the players headed for the tunnel.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Baena twice tested Anderlecht’s Dutch goalkeeper and Villarreal were still on top, but Dreyer’s shot from outside the area took a strange trajectory and flew into the goal defended by Pepe Reina to level the scores.
Following the goal, the home side regained a foothold in the game and began to create more danger, although without any clear-cut chances. The Submarine were back in control of the game in the last 15 minutes, with Nico Jackson coming close to getting to two balls that left him in the goalmouth, one of them when he almost robbed the goalkeeper of the ball, but it was not enough.
Thus, qualification for the quarter-finals will come down to the return leg at La Cerámica on Thursday 16th March. Villarreal’s next match will be this Sunday at 6:30pm CET at the Estadio de la Cerámica against Real Betis on a day that promises to be a great celebration of our centenary.
RSC Anderlecht: Verbruggen; Murillo, Debast, Vertonghen, N’diaye (min. 86, Sardella); Diawara, Verschaeren; Dreyer (min. 86, Angulo), Rafaelov (min. 73, Ashimeru), Amuzu (min. 65, Stroeykens); Raman (min. 65, Slimani)
Villarreal CF: Reina; Foyth, Mandi, J. Cuenca, Mojica; Parejo, M. Trigueros (min. 73, R. Terrats), Álex B. (min. 73, Lo Celso); Chukwueze (min. 58, Yeremy), A.J. Morales (min. 73, N. Jackson), J. Pascual (min. 58, Gerard).
Goals: 0-1. Min. 28: M. Trigueros. 1-1. Min. 58: Dreyer.
Referee: Bartosz Frankowski (Poland). Booked: M. Trigueros (Villarreal).
Matchday information: Game between Anderlecht and Villarreal, corresponding to the UEFA Europa Conference League Round of 16 first leg, at the Stade Constant Vanden Stock.