Breathless return to the Champions League (2-2)
Breathless return to the Champions League (2-2)

Villarreal and Atalanta draw an exciting match full of chances

Villarreal drew against Atalanta (2-2) as the UEFA Champions League returned to the Estadio de la Cerámica. Both teams shone in a great game with goals, chances and lots of excitement. The Italians opened the scoring with an early goal from Freuler, before the Yellwos responded through Manu Trigueros and Arnaut Danjuma. In the closing stages of the game, Gosens got the equaliser.

In the build-up to the match, Gerard Moreno received the trophy for the 20/21 Europa League Player of the Season award on the Estadio de la Cerámica pitch. The fans gave a the Catalan striker a loud ovation to show their thanks. The ten minutes before kick-off were full of excitement as almost 13,000 ‘groguets’ did not want to miss the Champions League anthem playing out at the Estadio de la Cerámica ten seasons later.

The game started badly for the Yellows. Atalanta BC started the match full of intensity, causing problems for Unai Emery’s side. In the 6th minute, the Italian team went ahead with an early goal from Freuler. The Swiss midfielder received an excellent ball from Zapata in the heart of the area and made no mistake, firing past Gero Rulli. After hitting both posts, the ball ended up in the back of the net.

After the shock of conceding so early, Villarreal reacted and tried to draw the match level, trying to find gaps in the anarchic Italian set-up. In the 20th minute, Trigueros tried his luck with a scuffed shot that Musso stopped easily. 

Despite the Submarine having more of the ball, Atlanta were still causing danger to Rulli’s goal. Every time, they won the ball, they countered quickly and got into the home side’s area with few touches.

Before the break, Villarreal drew level with a goal from Trigueros. After a fantastic piece of combination play between Étienne Capoue, Gerard Moreno and Alfonso Pedraza, the midfielder finished calmly. 

The final stretch of the first half was a siege from the Yellows. Only three minutes after levelling the contest, Villarreal went close to scoring their second. A miraculous stop by the local goalkeeper stopped Gerard’s effort out, after the No.7 got on the end of a Dani Parejo ball from a set piece. 

After the half-time break, the game resumed at the incessant rhythm that the first 45 minutes provided. Atalanta caused problems first with two chances that Rulli saved shortly after the second half began.

But it was Villarreal who struck first. The Submarine went ahead with a goal from Danjuma, who showed flashes of quality after he entered the field of play. The Dutch forward outwitted Musso with after receiving a fantastic assist from Gerard that saw him put through beyond the Italian defence.

In just a couple of minutes, the situation drastically changed for the Submarine. In the 82nd minute, Atalanta equaliser through Gosens and immediately afterwards Coquelin was sent off when he saw a second yellows for stopping an Italian counterattack by pulling his opponent back. 

The end of the game saw the Submarine have to dig in, but it was Villarreal who went closest to victory. Musso saved at full stretch to deny Gerard with almost the last kick of the game.


Villarreal CF: Rulli; Foyth, R. Albiol, Pau, A. Pedraza (Mario Gaspar, m. 87); Capoue (Coquelin, m. 60), M. Trigueros (Moi Gómez, m. 60), Parejo; Gerard, Dia (Danjuma, m. 60), Yeremy (Alberto M., m. 72).

Atalanta BC: Musso; Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti (Demiral, m. 60); Zappacosta, De Roon (Koopmeiners, m. 70), Freuler, Gosens; Malinovskyi (Pasalic, m. 70), Zapata (Ilicic, m. 70), Pessina (Miranchuk, m. 79).

Goals: 0-1. Min. 6: Freuler. 1-1. Min. 39: M. Trigueros. 2-1. Min. 74: Danjuma. 2-2. Min. 82: Gosens

Referee: Clément Turpin (France): Booked: Capoue, Yeremy (Villarreal), De Roon (Atalanta). Sent off: Coquelin (second yellow, min.84).

Matchday information: Game between Villarreal CF and Atalanta BC, corresponding to Matchday 1 of the UEFA Champions League at the Estadio de la Cerámica, with an attendance of 12,918.