Villarreal overcome Napoli by the smallest margin thanks to a goal by Denis Suárez (1-0) and has the upper hand in the knock out phase of the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 tie. The fourth placed team in LaLiga went up against the second placed team in Serie A and the match didn’t disappoint. It had everything. Excitement, great football, intensity and a tremendous goal for the Yellows, with a work of art from a brilliant Denis Suárez direct free kick.
The match was an even one from the first whistle. The first clear chance for the Yellows came in the 4th minute. Pepe Reina’s error from a goal clearance fell to Bruno, who played a quick pass to Soldado. The Yellow number 9 hit a good, hard, long range shot which was met by the hands of Reina who threw himself in front of the shot on his return to the goal mouth, meanwhile Koulibaly was ready and waiting on the goal line.
Napoli stretched the play bit by bit and looked dangerous as they approached Areola’s goal, but the Yellow defence was in tune.
After the first half an hour it was bad news for the Submarine. Jonathan dos Santos suffered a pulled left hamstring and had to go off. Samu Castillejo came on in his place on the right wing.
In the second half the game got more exciting and opportunities for both teams came thick and fast. The Submarine created a great chance when Denis put a ball across the six-yard box but no one could get on the end of it, while the Italian side came close to scoring with two shots from Callejón that were off target.
In the 66th minute Bakambu, who had just came on, was at the point of scoring the game’s first goal after a great combination play with Musacchio, but his shot sailed over the bar.
The reward came for Villarreal in the 81st minute. Denis Suárez executed a perfect free kick from the top of the area and the ball came off the underside off the crossbar and sailed into the Napoli goal. Incredible. Spectacular. A great goal.
The game finished 1-0. Everything is still to be decided, but Villarreal will play in San Paolo next Thursday (21:05pm CET) with a small but significant advantage. The battle has just started.
Villarreal CF: Areola; Mario, Musacchio, Víctor Ruiz, Jaume Costa; Jonathan dos Santos (Samu Castillejo, m. 35), Trigueros (Pina, m. 73), Bruno, Denis Suárez; Leo Baptistao (Bakambu, m. 60) and Soldado.
SSC Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Chiriches, Koulibaly, Strinic; Hamsik, Valdifiori, David López (Allan, m. 82); Callejón (Insigne, m. 72), Gabbiadini (Higuaín, m. 67) and Mertens.
Goals: 1-0. Min. 81: Denis Suárez.
Referee: Bas Nijhuis (Holland). Cautioned: Musacchio (m. 86) and Soldado (m. 90); Valdifiori (m. 37), Callejón (m. 67) and Insigne (m. 90).
Stadium: El Madrigal.