Heart & Soul (2-2)
Heart & Soul (2-2)


Villarreal drew with leaders Barça in a match impacted by the referee’s calls


Villarreal drew with the leader of LaLiga, FC Barcelona, in a thrilling encounter that was heavily influenced, inevitably, by the decisions of referee Sánchez Martínez, who should have sent off  Pique in the first half and gave a penalty after a non-existent foul on Neymar by Asenjo. In the second half, the Yellows got their justice with goals from Bakambu and Mathieu (own goal). 

The Submarine started really upbeat. Not even a minute had passed when the Yellows hit the post of Bravo’s goal. After a play down the left side from Bakambu, that left Pique on the floor, he crossed the ball in and Trigueros and Arda battled in the air and the ball came off the woodwork. Really bad luck.  

In the 6th minute, Villarreal almost scored again. Bakambu turned with great control and tried to fire the ball over Bravo, but the goalkeeper kept it out. From the possible 1-0 came the 0-1, in the 19th minute. Messi put in a lofted free kick and Rakitic fired home the rebound with a left footed strike that sailed through a sea of Yellow legs.

Shortly after the controversial calls began. The first of which saw Sánchez Martínez look over what should have been a sending off for Piqué, who clearly touched the ball with his hand when already on a yellow card. The ref didn’t see it and so Barça’s number 3 was saved from his second yellow.

Villarreal kept going, again coming close to scoring as Trigueros’ shot from the top of the box wasn’t powerful or accurate enough to break the deadlock for the Yellows. The 40th minute saw another controversial decision again against the Yellows. Sánchez Martínez pointed to the penalty spot after Sergio Asenjo slid at the feet of Neymar but clearly won the ball. El Madrigal was in uproar. Incredible. The Brazilian tucked away his penalty, with a cheeky chip, worsening the pain.   

But Villarreal didn’t give up and just after half time added one to the score board. In the 56th minute Bakambu took advantage of the rebound from Denis Suárez’s shot which was put into his path by Bravo and sent it flying into the open goal.  

Shortly after Marcelino’s men equalized. Mathieu scored an own goal after a corner kick from the right in the 62nd minute. 2-2.

Excitement filled every corner of El Madrigal. Villarreal, more in tune than LaLiga’s leader, were in search of the winner to make it an unforgettable victory. While Barça were also creating danger, Asenjo immense in the Villarreal goal. A point won with heart, soul and a helping hand from the stands. An amazing match. Yellow pride.


Villarreal CF: Asenjo; Mario, Bailly, Víctor Ruiz, Rukavina; Denis Suárez (Pina, m. 73), Trigueros, Bruno, Samu Castillejo; Bakambu (Adrián, m. 70) and Soldado (Leo Baptistao, m. 82).

FC Barcelona: Bravo; Sergi Roberto, Mascherano, Piqué (Mathieu, m. 54), Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Arda Turan (Dani Alves, m. 56); Messi, Suárez and Neymar.

Goals: 0-1. Min. 19: Rakitic. 0-2. Min. 40: Neymar, penalty. 1-2. Min. 56: Bakambu. 2-2. Min. 62: Mathieu, own goal.

Referee: Sánchez Martínez (Murcia, Spain). Cautioned: Asenjo, Víctor Ruiz, Soldado, Bruno, Rukavina, Pina, Mario and Trigueros for Villarreal; Piqué, Arda Turan, Jordi Alba and Mascherano for FC Barcelona.

Match Information: Match in correspondence with LaLiga Match Day 30, played in El Madrigal stadium. A minute of silence to remember the victims of the serious road accident in Tarragona and the mother of Villarreal CF goalkeeper coach, Jesús Unanua.