A massively important victory, but it didn't come easy. Villarreal came away with three magnificent points towards their objective of staying up, beating Leganés 2-1 thanks to Carlos Bacca and Karl Toko Ekambi's goals. The side from Madrid got one back late on with a Nabil El Zhar penalty, which meant it was a heart-attack inducing injury time for all Yellows.
Javi Calleja picked nearly the same side that got the win against Girona in Montilivi, with Andrés Fernández coming in for Sergio Asenjo in goal. It was precisely the goalscorer against the Catalan side, Samu Chukwueze, who was the most active player early on against Leganés.
In just the second minute, the first controversial moment of the game arrived. Chukwueze received a long ball and scored past on the oncoming Iván Cuéllar, but it was ruled off for offside. A tight decision that was reviewed by VARS. Millimetres in it.
Villarreal passed around and tried to find a gap in a packed Leganés defence. The side from Madrid were trying to steal the ball back and launch a quick counter-attack.
The Yellow Submarine dominated the first half and had chances. Chukwueze and Pablo Fornals found themselves up against a defender's leg thrown out when it looked like a goal, but the clearest chance fell to Toko Ekambi. The No.17 received a great through ball from Chukwueze, and made Cuéllar pull off a great save.
The Yellows continued with the majority of the possession in the second half. Calleja's side were calm, and did not make errors. Their patience paid off. The goal to make it 1-0 came in the 63rd minut.. Xavi Quintillà crossed from the right flank, Toko Ekambi headed towards the goal and Bacca got on the end of Cuéllar's push out to open the scoring. A real predator's goal.
Leganés started to push forward from that, but it was Villarreal who got the crucial second. Santi Cazorla played a brilliant through ball to Toko Ekambi, with the striker turning in the area and scoring the game's second to make it 2-0, with a right-footed curling shot into the bottom of the far post (m.79).
Leganés pulled one back from the penalty spot. Álvaro fouled Youssef En-Nesyri and El Zhar stepped up to score (m.86).
The last few minutes were not good for the heart. Leganés continued throwing balls into the area, but Villarreal were able to hang on and get three crucial points.
Next up for Villarreal is a match on Thursday against Real Sociedad at Anoeta (8:30pm CEST).
Villarreal CF: Andrés; Mario Gaspar, Álvaro, Funes Mori, Quintillà; Chukwueze (Pedraza, m. 83), Iborra, Cazorla, Fornals; Bacca (Cáseres, m. 74), Toko Ekambi (Gerard, m. 88).
CD Leganés: Cuéllar; Nyom, Bustinza (El Zhar, m. 70), Omeruo, Siovas, J. Silva; Gumbau, Rubén Pérez, Óscar (Sabin Merino, m. 76); Braithwaite, Carrillo (En-Nesyri, m. 56).
Goals: 1-0. Min. 63: Bacca. 2-0. Min. 79: Toko Ekambi. 2-1. Min. 86: El Zhar, (penalty).
Referee: Prieto Iglesias (C. Navarro). Booked: Andrés, Cáseres (Villarreal); Omeruo (Leganés).
Matchday information: Match corresponding to LaLiga Matchday 33 at the Estadio de la Cerámica in front of 14,753 spectators.