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No reward after a great game (3-4)
No reward after a great game (3-4)

Villarreal deserve more in an open, head-to-head match with a lot of chances at La Cerámica

Villarreal lost to FC Barcelona (3-4). The Yellows were left without a prize in a match in which they deserved much more and in which they even came back from a two goal deficit. Bad luck and the success of the visitors ended up deciding what was to be a great game.

A full house at the Estadio de la Cerámica to welcome FC Barcelona. Villarreal started the match with impetuosity, eager to show that they could beat the champions. The Yellows looked forward with bravado and looked to have taken an early lead.

Before the fifth minute, Alexander Sorloth converted a one-on-one against Ter Stegen which, incomprehensibly, was disallowed by the referee for an offside position by Sorloth when Capoue allegedly touched the ball.

Despite this, Quique Setién’s team did not give up. The Submarine went back on the attack and came close to scoring first with two clear chances. Firstly, Álex Baena shot wide. Then, Sorloth, with a somewhat forced shot that found Ter Stegen.

If the Yellows were forgiving, the Culés struck without warning. In their first approach, FC Barcelona scored the first goal of the afternoon. Lamine Yamal put the ball into the net after a second move and Gavi headed the ball into the back of the net.

The goal was a blow to the Yellows, who had no time to absorb it. Two minutes later, FC Barcelona’s second came. De Jong collected a rebound in the box to make it 0-2.

There was still a long time to go and Setién’s men knew it. Halfway through the first half, the Submarine pulled one back with another strategic move. From Baena’s pinpoint corner, Juan Foyth rose highest in the heart of the box and struck a coolly struck shot that kissed the post before ending up in the net.

The 1-2 scoreline restored the Submarine’s confidence and they found the equaliser before the interval. In a quick transition, Baena played a wonderful pass to Sorloth, who controlled and laid it back for Gerard. The Catalan produced an almost implausible through ball in the direction of Pedraza, who, after raising his head, laid the ball off for the Norwegian giant to fire home from close range. Villarreal did the hardest thing and equalised before the break.

After the restart, Villarreal finished what they had started in the first half and came all the way back: 3-2! An unstoppable gallop by Alfonso Pedraza from inside his own half ended in the third yellow goal. The left-back, on arriving in the box, laid on a masterful finish from Baena in front of Ter Stegen. La Cerámica was gripped by passion.

The comeback awoke the best version of FC Barcelona, who subdued the Yellows after the 3-2. Ferran found the equaliser in the 68th minute and Lewandowski fortunately made it 3-4 just three minutes later after a rebound from Lamine Yamal’s post shot fell to him inside the box.

With the score at a disadvantage, Setién moved the bench and introduced attacking players to look for an equaliser in the closing stages. Brereton, Morales, Ilias, Comesaña and Denis Suárez came on to give freshness and verticality to Villarreal’s football. The Anglo-Chilean had a long-range shot in stoppage time. On the stroke of full-time, there was a foul in the box which the players called for a penalty, but the referee did not award it. The Submarine tried, they played a great game, but luck was not on their side.

Lineups:

Villarreal CF: Jorgensen; Foyth, Gabbia, J. Cuenca, A. Pedraza; Terrats (Denis Suárez, m. 70), Parejo (Brereton Díaz, m. 86), Capoue (Santi C. V., m. 70); Gerard (I. Akhomach, m. 70), Sorloth; Álex B. (A. J. Morales, m. 77)

FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Koundé, Christensen (Eric, m. 46), Marcos Alonso; De Jong, Romeu (Ferran, m. 63), Gündogan (Fermín, m. 86), Lamine Yamal (Ansu Fati, m. 77), Gavi; Lewandowski.

Goals: 0-1. Min. 13: Gavi. 0-2. Min. 15: De Jong. 1-2. Min. 26: Foyth. 2-2. Min. 40: Sorloth. 3-2. Min. 50: Álex B. 3-3. Min. 68: Ferran. 3-4. Min. 71: Lewandowski.

Referee: Hernández Hernández. Booked: Foyth, Terrats, Gabbia (Villarreal CF); Yamal, Lewandowski, Eric (FC Barcelona).

Matchday information: Match corresponding to Matchday 3 of the 2023/24 LALIGA EA SPORTS season at the Estadio de la Cerámica. Attendance: 21,679. Villarreal CF paid tribute to Gerard Moreno after becoming the club’s top scorer of all time with 107 goals.

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