It was a two-sided Villarreal. The Submarine fell in their visiting cup tie against Athletic de Bilbao in San Marnés (3-2). The yellows got off to a great start in the first half with goals from Leo Baptistao and Samu García but, as they tired, they let the game slip in the second half with the home side completely dominating. Despite this, elimination is still wide open and will be decided in the return leg of the quarter finals which will take place next Wednesday 13th January in the Madrigal stadium (8:30pm CET).
Conscious of the wear and tear of his team at this point in the season, Marcelino went with a starting eleven that featured some players that don’t usually start and two of the reserve team squad members, Adrian Marin, at left back, and Rodri, in centre midfield with Tomás Pina.
Although the local side were the first to create danger in their opponent’s box (with a great take by goalkeeper Barbosa in a one on one), the Submarine made the most of their chances. Bilbao’s whirlwind start was to no avail as Villarreal were on top of them from the beginning.
A quarter of an hour in and the yellows went up 0-1, after a great combination move finishing with a Baptistao goal. The move started at the feet of Samu Castillejo who made space to put a cross in finding Nahuel. Nahuel set the ball down with his head to the Brazilian who, unmarked, sent a driven shot across goal beating Herrerín.
The red and whites, following the Villarreal goal, continued to pile on the pressure and suffocate the defence of Marcelino Garcia Toral’s side; to the point of creating two good chances, but it was the Submarine that struck again. In the 37th minute, Samu Castillejo, hunted the ball down and, with great vision, played a precise through ball to Samu García, who went by Herrerín in a one on one to score the second (0-2).
Not much changed in the second half. Athletic insisted on closing down Villarreal at every opportunity and the yellows came out with the same proficiency, but it was the red and whites that broke through first. Ten minutes after the break, Williams took advantage of a Villarreal defensive error to put himself one on one against Barbosa and make it 1-2.
As a result of so much action from the home side, tiredness began to set in to the Submarine. Athletic continued to grow and started to get to goal more easily and, unfortunately, with greater success. In the 67th minute, Aduriz levelled the score line from a Williams pass and the game, at 2-2, was to start again for both teams.
But it was the Basque’s that took the game in the end. In the 81st minute, Laporte made the most of a long ball putting himself in front of the Villarreal defenders and completing the Athletic comeback. Things got even more complicated when, five minutes from time, Marcelino’s side went down to ten men as Mario saw his second yellow.
Even so, the yellows gritted their teeth and withheld the onslaught from the locals to leave the score at 3-2, leaving the second leg wide open.
Athletic Club: Iago Herrerín, De Marcos, Etxeita, Laporte, Lekue (Balenciaga, 86’), Beñat, Iturraspe (San José, 80’), Susaeta, Raúl García, Muniain (Aduriz, 54’) and Williams.
Villarreal CF: Barbosa, Eric Bailly, Víctor Ruiz, Adrián Marín, Rukavina, Nahuel (Mario, 73’), Pina, Rodri (Bruno, 80’), Samu Castillejo, Samu García and Leo Baptistao (Bakambu, 65’).
Goals: 0-1, min. 15: Leo Baptistao. 0-2, min. 37: Samu García. 1-2, min. 53: Williams. 2-2, min. 67: Aduriz. 3-2, min. 81: Laporte.
Referee: Carlos Clos Gómez (Aragón committee). Cautioned Raúl García (23’), Susaeta (49’) from Athletic Club and Adrián Marín (33’), Tomás Pina (44’) from Villarreal. Sent off Mario (86’) for two yellow cards.