Big boost at Montilivi (0-1)
Big boost at Montilivi (0-1)

Villarreal pick up a valuable victory against Girona and move out of the relegation zone

Villarreal came away with a hugely valuable win at Montilivi (0-1). Javi Calleja’s side were solid at the back and effective up front, which led them to take down Girona FC and pick up three very important points to take them out of the relegation zone. The only goal of the game was scored by Samu Chukwueze in the opening minutes.

At Montilivi, the Yellows found themselves with another chance to get out of the relegation zone and gain an advantage over their direct rivals, who did not pick up positive results on Matchday 32.

Javi Calleja made four changes to his starting eleven with respect to the previous European encounter against Valencia CF. Sergio Asenjo returned to the goal and Funes Mori came back in at centre back, while Carlos Bacca and Toko Ekambi started up front. On the left Villarreal B player, Xavi Quintillà, was given the go ahead once more.

The Submarine had a magnificent start to the match. Moments after the first whistle, Samu Chukwueze had the first chance of the evening. After great combination play with Bacca and Fornals, the young Nigerian cut the ball back in the box and hit a shot across goal that was saved by Bono.

In the 6th minute, Villarreal and Samu Chukwueze struck again. This time, making the net bulge. The Yellows counterattacked rapidly and the Nigerian forward beat Bono with a cool finish to give the Submarine the lead. Vicente Iborra won the ball back on the top of the Villarreal box, then Pablo Fornals played a great ball forward and into the space for the Nigerian to run onto and he made no mistake with his finish .

Ten minutes later, Stuani scored for Girona. However, his goal was disallowed after it was reviewed by VAR and ruled offside.

With their goal not given, the red-and-whites were spurred on even more and had their best minutes of the game in the lead up to the half-an-hour mark. Eusebio’s side attacked in earnest, looking to find Stuani with crosses into the box, but the Submarine held strong at the back. At the other end, Villarreal were looking to add to their account. In the 34th minute, Toko Ekambi had a great shot that was kept out by Bono once again.

The start of the second half was quiet for both sides, neither team creating any clear goal scoring chances. In the 54th minute, Patrick Roberts tested Sergio Asenjo but the Villarreal number one was equal to it.

Calleja strengthened the midifield by bringing on Santi Cáseres for Toko Ekambi, as the Submarine looked to have more control of the game. In the 66th minute, Fornals had a great chance to make it two for the Yellows but his shot across goal went wide of the far post.

In the 92nd minute, Sergio Asenjo made a feline-like save from point-blank range from a Doumbia to keep the Yellows in front. Villarreal could then have sentenced the match as Cáseres went through one-on-one with the Girona keeper, but he could not find the back of the net.

With seven minutes of added time, Villarreal played with courage and heart to the end; withstanding everything a fighting Girona threw at them, who desperately looked to equalise until the last second. The final whistle finally came and the Yellow Submarine picked up a very important win away from home that consequently sees them move out of the relegation zone. Javi Calleja’s side will get back to play on Thursday against Valencia in the return leg of the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.


Girona FC: Bono; Ramalho (Pedro Porro, m. 69), Alcalá, Juanpe, R. Carnero (Kevin Soni, m. 85); Roberts (Doumbia, m. 63), Pere Pons, Aleix García, Borja García; Portu and Stuani.

Villarreal CF: Asenjo; Mario, Álvaro, Funes Mori, Quintillà; Iborra, S. Cazorla, Fornals, Chukwueze (Pedraza, m. 76); Bacca (Gerard, m. 89) and Toko Ekambi (S. Cáseres, m. 56).

Goals: 0-1. Min. 6: Chukwueze.

Referee: Cordero Vega. Booked: Juanpe and Pere Pons for Girona; Fornals, Chukwueze, Mario Gaspar, Santi Cáseres and Funes Mori for Villarreal.

Information: Match between Girona FC and Villarreal CF corresponding to LaLiga Matchday 32 played at the Estadio Municipal de Montilivi in front of 11,535 spectators.