Villarreal lose at the Ciutat de València in a match filled with refereeing controversy (2-1)
Villarreal lost against Levante (2-1) in a match where refereeing decisions took centre stage. After an excellent first half from the Yellows, who went ahead in the third minute through Gerard Moreno, Levante turned the game around with two penalties from Roger. The decisions made by José Luis Munuera Montero for both penalties were extremely controversial, especially the first. What’s more, after a great save by Andrés Fernández to deny José Luis Morales, the referee inexplicably ordered it to be retaken, which saw Roger then step up and score.
Villarreal manager Javi Calleja lined up with an attacking team , with three changes from last Saturday’s game against Granada. In defence, the full-backs were Mario Gaspar, who replaced injured Rubén Peña, and Alberto Moreno, who made his debut for the Yellows, after recovering from a knock. Up front, Karl Toko Ekambi started, coming in for compatriot André-Frank Zambo Anguissa.
The first half was a show of brilliant football by the Yellows, who had the home side against the ropes. In the third minute, Villarreal opened the scoring. With just five touches, they put together a fantastic piece of play through Fernández, Santi Cazorla, Moreno, with a spectacular pass, and Toko Ekambi, who from inside the box played it to Gerard to fire home.
The brilliant performance by the Yellows only got better after the goal. Calleja’s side constantly looked for Toko Ekambi, who was generating a lot of danger looking for the space between the Levante centre-backs. The forward’s speed and mobility were causing headaches for the home side. The striker had at least four goalscoring chances. The clearest came in the 19th minute, where the Yellows No.17 cut inside from the right, firing at goal, after a great counter-attack.
Before there was half an hour on the clock, Gerard once more had another great chance. The Catalan attacker was denied by Aitor Fernández, after firing at him from a great Mario Gaspar corss. Levante could not deal with the Yellows, who went into the break 0-1 up, a result which did not reflect the dominance shown by Calleja’s side in the opening 45 minutes.
Levante woke up in the second half. They started to react to the Yellows’ possession-based football and started to trouble Andres’ goal. In the 64th minute, the referee, with help from VAR, gave a questionable penalty after a supposed foul by Toko Ekambi on Enis Bardhi in the box. Goalkeeper Andrés made a brilliant double save from Morales, to first keep out the penalty, and then the rebound too. Inexplicably, Munuero Montero ordered the penalty to be retaken, and this time, with their second chance from the spot, the home side scored through Roger.
Ten minutes after blowing for the first penalty, the referee once more blew for another one for the home side. It was once again controversial. Roger stepped up to score his second of the match, putting Levante ahead. It was unbelievable. Villarreal, who were on top for the whole game, were behind on the scoreboard. Calleja looked to the bench and brought on Carlos Bacca and Javi Ontiveros to try and turn things around.
The former Málaga winger, making his debut for the Yellow Submarine, started to direct the away side’s attacks, and looked dangerous. In the 90th minute, Gerard had the chance to equalise after a Samu Chukwueze pass, but his shot, from the heart of the area, went over the bar.
The match at the Ciutat de València ended with the Yellows unable to come away with a point in a match that will be remembered for refereeing controversy.
Levante UD: Aitor Fernández; Coke, Vezo, Postigo, Toño; Bardhi, Vukcevic, Campaña; Rochina (Hernani, m. 63), Sergio León (Roger, m. 63), Morales (Miramón, m. 84).
Villarreal CF: Andrés Fdez., Mario Gaspar, R. Albiol (M. Trigueros, m. 87), Pau, Alberto M., Iborra, Cazorla, Moi Gómez (J. Ontiveros, m. 74), Toko Ekambi (Bacca, m. 74), Chukwueze; Gerard.
Goals: 0-1. Min 3: Gerard. 1-1. Min. 67: Roger (p). 2-1. Min. 74: Roger (p).
Referee: Munuera Montero. Booked: Vukcevic (Levante); Andrés Fernández, Raúl Albiol and Villarreal boss Javi Calleja.
Matchday information: LaLiga Matchday 2 between Levante UD and Villarreal CF at the Ciutat de València in front of an attendance of 20,240.