A game of the greats. Villarreal stood up strong to FC Barcelona at the Estadio de la Cerámica and came close to getting the win after a brilliant goal by Sansone, but Messi emerged in the final minutes to level the match with a magnificent free kick (1-1).
It was set to be a thrilling encounter from the first minute. With the newly named 'Estadio de la Cerámica' full to the brim, both teams went in search of the opener. And the Submarine and the Catalonian side had chances to do just that, but a goal evaded both sides in the first 45 minutes. The best chance for the Yellows fell to the right boot of Jonathan dos Santos, whose first time strike from a Jaume Costa cross went just over the bar.
Luis Enrique’s side’s attacking force was kept at bay by Escribá’s defensive organization. Barça attacked, but Villarreal defended well and looked to create danger on the counterattack.
And that is just how the Yellows’ opening goal came about in the second half. Pato set off down the middle of the pitch on a break and played a great pass to Sansone, who scored with a fantastic first time shot across goal that went in off the inside of the far post. An inch perfect play.
The home side’s goal just spurred Barça on even more, the visitors hunting down Asenjo’s goal without respite. The Submarine held strong though. Solid. And Barcelona’s forwards were not having their best day in front of goal, Messi coming closest as he hit the post with a shot from the edge of the box.
It was nail-biting stuff in the final minutes. Barça attacking in earnest and the thousands of fans at the Estadio de la Cerámica on the edge of their seats. One of the worst things to happen at the end of the match was Mateo Musacchio’s injury to his right arm, forcing the centre back to leave the field of play.
The match came to an end soon after, but not before some Messi magic. The Argentinean superstar scored a superb free kick to tie the match in the 89th minute, his strike rocketing into the top corner. Unstoppable.
Villarreal’s next match is this Wednesday against Real Sociedad at the Estadio de la Cerámica (7pm CET) in the second leg of the Round of 16 of the Copa del Rey.
Villarreal CF: Asenjo; Mario, Musacchio (Álvaro, m. 86), Víctor Ruiz, Jaume Costa; Jonathan dos Santos, Bruno, Trigueros, Soriano (Rodrigo, m. 82); Sansone and Pato (Samu Castillejo, m. 75).
FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Mascherano, Digne (Arda Turan, m. 70); André Gomes (Denis Suárez, m. 67), Sergio Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez and Neymar.
Goals: 1-0. Min. 49: Sansone. 1-1. Min. 89: Messi.
Referee: Iglesias Villanueva (Galicia, Spain). Cautioned: Sansone for Villarreal; Sergi Roberto and Piqué for Barcelona. Sent off: Jaume Costa (m. 91) for Villarreal.
Match Information: Match corresponding to Matchday 17 of the LaLiga Santander played at the Estadio de la Cerámica in front of 22,893 spectators.