Full steam ahead. Villarreal got another well-deserved win in LaLiga against Real Betis thanks to two Gerard Moreno goals and continue with their great run of results. The Yellows have 16 points from a possible 18 since the league returned after the break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This result moves the Submarine closer to their hopes of playing in European football next season.
Javi Calleja once more made changes to his team due to the large number of games in little time, showing trust in his squad. There were a total of six changes to the team that beat Valencia CF at the Estadio de la Cerámica. Rúben Peña and Alberto Moreno returned to the full-back positions, while Manu Trigueros, Moi Gómez and Javi Ontiveros came in in midfield, while Carlos Bacca was the man to accompany Gerard up front.
The Submarine had a chance in the second minute with a long-range Trigueros shot which forced Joel to save at full stretch. Only four minutes later came the decisión that marked the rest of the tie. Marc Bartra clearly brought down Bacca in the box and Gerard stepped up to score from the shot with a powerful penalty down the middle (0-1,. m.6).
Betis reacted, showing danger in attack. In fact, they had the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was called out for an offside before André-Frank Zambo Anguissa put it in his own net (m.16). VAR backed the referees’ on-field decision.
The goal to make it 0-2 came with around half an hour gone. Bacca got the ball on the left, cut inside to play the ball to Gerard, who took charge of the rest. He produced a magical cut-back with his left and placed it into corner with right foot (m.29). A double from the Catalan striker, the top Spanish goalscorer in LaLiga with 15 goals.
Betis continued looking dangerous in attack, but Villarreal looked like scoring every time they got past the home side’s pressure. Gerard had a chance to get a hat-trick, but a Betis defender cleared it off the line.
The Andalusian side were left a man down just before half-time. Nabil Fekir saw two yellow cards in quick succession and left his side with ten men. The first yellow was for protesting and the second was for a heavy challenge on Raúl Albiol.
With a player more on the pitch, Villarreal used the ball to defend their two-goal advantage. To do this, Calleja brought on Santi Cazorla and Bruno Soriano. Complete control while still attacking. Cazorla could have made it 0-3 after a great Paco Alcácer flick. The Spanish striker could also have scored after a great outside-of-the-foot cross by Samu Chukwueze. The last chance of the game came to Cazorla, with his effort going just wide. The third goal didn’t come, but the Yellows did get the three points.
Next up for Villarreal is a home game against FC Barcelona at the Estadio de la Cerámica (Sunday, 10pm CEST).
Real Betis Balompié: Joel; Mandi, Bartra (Juanmi, m. 46), Sidnei; Emerson Royal, Guido Rodríguez (Edgar, m. 86), Canales (Aleñá, m. 63), Guardado (Joaquín, m. 77), Pedraza; Fekir Borja Iglesias (Tello, m. 77).
Villarreal CF: Asenjo; Rubén Peña, Albiol, Pau, Alberto Moreno; Ontiveros, Anguissa (Bruno, m. 63), Trigueros (Morlanes, m. 79), Moi Gómez (Cazorla. m. 63), Gerard (Paco Alcácer, m. 54), Bacca (Chukwueze, m. 79).
Goals: 0-1. Min. 6: Gerard (penalty). 0-2. Min. 29: Gerard.
Árbitro: Gil Manzano. Booked: Bartra, Guido Rodríguez (Betis); Alberto Moreno (Villarreal). Sent off for two yellows: Fekir (Betis).
Matchday information: Match corresponding to LaLiga Matchday 33 at the Benito Villamarín.