It wasn’t to be. With no less than nine players out injured, Villarreal fell (1-0) in their first league match of the 2017/18 season to a Levante side that fought hard and were stubborn in front of the Yellows goal. The Submarine got better as the game went on, but came away empty handed nevertheless, as Morlanes scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot, which was a very controversial penalty call indeed.
Despite the fact that the locals dominated the play at the start, it was the Submarine who had the first clear chance of the game. In the 8th minute, Bacca got clear from his defender for speed and onto the end of a great long ball by Sansone, but his shot was deflected just wide of the far post.
The locals continued to pile on the pressure with real intensity, but Villarreal sat further back and enjoyed more possession of the ball. In the 30th minute, Rodrigo forced the home goalkeeper to make a great save as he headed towards goal from a corner kick. The Madrid native got up and won the ball, but his effort also went just wide of the post.
The second half followed a similar script. The Yellows looked to exploit Levate on the counterattack, but struggled to get into the ‘granotas’ area. As Fran Escribá’s side were creating fewer chances, the ‘granotas’ began to bombard the Villarreal box.
The game's only goal came right at the end though and from a very controversial play at that. Just before full time Morlanes dribbled with the ball to the byline and Rukavina slide tackled him to try to stop his progress. The referee pointed straight to the penalty spot though and Morlanes converted the spot kick, despite Andrés Fernández’s stretching dive in the right direction. No points on Matchday 1.
Levante UD: Raúl; Iván López, Chema, Postigo, Toño; Jason, Lerma, Campaña (Boateng, m. 84), Morales, Bardhi (Doukouré, m. 69); and Alegría (Ivi López, m. 76).
Villarreal CF: Andrés; Rukavina, Álvaro, V.Ruiz, J.Costa; Rodrigo, Trigueros (Darío, m. 89), Fornals, Sansone (Leo Suárez, m. 61); Ünal and Bacca (N’Diaye, m. 79).
Goal: 1-0. Min. 89: Morales, penalty.
Referee: Alfonso Javier Álvarez Izquierdo (Catalonian Committee). Cautioned: Lerma (m. 34) for Levante; and Trigueros (m. 38), Víctor Ruiz (m. 62) and Rukavina (m. 87) for Villarreal.
Match corresponding to Matchday 1 of the LaLiga Santander between Levante UD and Villarreal CF played at the Estadio Ciutat de València. At the start of the match a minute of silence was held in memory of the victims of the attack in Barcelona.