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Villarreal deserve more against Athletic (1-1)
Villarreal deserve more against Athletic (1-1)
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The Yellows had chances to win the game, but Pedraza’s goal was not enough to complete the comeback

The Submarine fielded a starting XI with many rotations against a fighting Athletic side who came to La Cerámica with the intention of winning the game and overtaking Unai Emery’s side in the standings.

Yeremy had the first chance of the game after receiving a lofted pass from Trigueros and facing his opponent to shoot at goal, but Unai Simón, well positioned, saved without any problems. The second clear chance also came from a Yellow. Alfonso Pedraza broke into the box from the left flank, dribbled past a Basque defender and his cross was just wide of the goal line. Moi Gómez also tried his luck with a shot across goal on the turn.

Athletic also had chances. Mandi, well positioned, blocked Iñaki Williams’ shot on goal against Sergio Asenjo, who seemed to have also intercepted the ball. Soon after, Raúl García scored the first goal of the game after receiving a killer pass from Muniain, who dribbled past Asenjo and set up his team-mate. Villarreal were to bounce back in the second half after conceding just before the break.

In the second half, Pedraza levelled the scores after a fine combination play from the Yellows. Manu Trigueros laid it off to Chukwueze, who back-heeled a fine pass to the Cordoba full-back, leaving him in a favourable position to finish the move, this time successfully.

Unai Emery moved the bench just after the equaliser and brought on Gerard, Danjuma and Lo Celso. The Dutch striker fired a missile that Unai Simón saved from close range in his first action on the pitch. Villarreal were beginning to feel very comfortable on the pitch and the chances kept coming. However, Athletic defended the equaliser hard and Villarreal were unable to take the three points before the vital second leg of the Champions League quarter-final.

Lineups:

Villarreal CF: S. Asenjo; Mario Gaspar (m. 77 Foyth), Serge Aurier, Mandi, A. Pedraza; M. Trigueros (m. 62, Lo Celso), Iborra, Moi Gómez; Chukwueze (m. 77, Coquelin), Paco Alcácer (m. 62, Gerard) and Yeremy (m. 62, Danjuma).

Athletic Club: Unai Simón; De Marcos (m. 76, Zarraga), Vivian, Yeray, Balenziaga; Berenguer (m. 66, N. Williams), Vesga (m. 27, Petxarroman), Vencedor (m. 76, Vencedor), Muniain; Raúl García (m. 66, O. Sancet) and I. Williams.

Goals: 1-0. Min. 43: Raúl García. 1-1. Min. 60: A. Pedraza.

Referee: Del Cerro Grande. Booked: A. Pedraza, Mandi (Villarreal); Petxarroman, Dani García, Oihan Sancet (Athletic).

Match information: Match between Villarreal and Athletic Club, matchday 31 of LaLiga, held at the Estadio de la Cerámica in front of 16,603 spectators.

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