Villarreal accelerates on its way to Europe and Athletic stops short, so much so that it begins to smell of burnt before such a sudden maneuver in the last days. Valverde’s team has worn out shoes. The yellows found their way to Unai Simón’s goal, while the rojiblancos, who played in black yesterday, as the scenario they have left for next season’s continental competitions, had their vision blurred when they were in front of the goal of Queen. The final win was perhaps too great a punishment, but it is a symptom of Bilbao’s depression. In Vila-real they went to party with five goals in the bag.
Reina, Mandi, Alfonso Pedraza (Alberto Moreno, min. 82), Juan Foyth, Pau Torres, Capoue (Ramón Terrats, min. 56), Parejo, Álex Baena, Nicolas Jackson (Gerard Moreno, min. 66), Chukwueze (Giovani Lo Celso, min. 65) and Yeremy Pino (Trigueros, min. 82)
Unai Simón, Lekue (De Marcos, min. 59), Yeray, Yuri, Aitor Paredes, Nico Williams, Ander Herrera (Vesga, min. 59), Dani García, Berenguer (Muniain, min. 59), O. Sancet and Williams (Guruzeta, min. 70)
goals 1-0 min. 23: Alex Baena. 2-0 min. 36: Nicholas Jackson. 2-1 min. 47: O. Sancet. 3-1 min. 49: Nicholas Jackson. 4-1 min. 60: Aitor Paredes (pp). 5-1 min. 90: Alex Baena.
Referee Carlos del Cerro Grande
Yellow cards Capoue (min. 1), Parejo (min. 44), Pau Torres (min. 48), Ander Herrera (min. 53), Aitor Paredes (min. 54), Alfonso Pedraza (min. 58) and Williams (min. 68)
It all started at a schizophrenic pace, from here to there; from Reina’s goal to Unai’s. There was no midfield. In a breath, Iñaki Williams had crossed too far, in front of the local goalkeeper, in a counterattack carried out wonderfully by Sancet. A little while later, the Athletic goalkeeper flew to clear Pedraza’s long shot and, almost without recovering his breath, Simón had to reach in and deflect Yeremi’s shot, two meters from the goal.
But there was something for everyone in the madness of La Cerámica, because the Bilbao team knew how to interpret their steal and run options well, and between the two Williams brothers they set up a relay race in which the older one attended and the younger executed, so that Reina wear his best clothes in the punt.
Athletic was weighed down by the defense, without Iñigo, nor Vivian, nor De Marcos; with Yeray reconnected to the cause despite the pubic injury, and that’s where all the ills came from, although Villarreal had to take advantage of a set piece action so that Baena, with a direct shot, beat Unai for the first time. Athletic replied with a volley from Nico, but hit the submarine again in the 37th minute, when after a weak shot, which hit Chukwueze, the ball fell to Jackson, free of mark, to score the second. In a couple of flashes, the initial anxieties of the people of Bilbao appeased, Villarreal found the ideal setting for their interests.
Athletic was waiting for half-time to lick their wounds, when on a free-kick, Parejo could not think of anything other than grabbing and knocking down Yuri two meters from the referee, who at first whistled for a free-kick almost over the line, although from the VAR pointed out that it was inside. The penalty was executed by Sancet to shorten the distance, already in the discount.
Athletic came out briskly after the break, but the rojiblancas anxieties immediately stopped when Jackson scored his third goal in a counterattack led by Yeremi, and in which he had only to push against the disconcerting Athletic defense, uncoupled from the start. The hinges creaked at the defense that Valverde set up with scraps, and at one point the visiting balloon was punctured. They appeared after the break with the air of looking for an equalizer and found themselves helpless with a difficult distance to overcome. The Jackson-Chukwueze couple moved freely.
Villarreal enjoyed so many facilities in the rival area and, with less bellows than at the beginning, the Bilbao team suffered with the punishment they received, which increased with Paredes’ own goal.
Everything was easy for those at home against a very unfortunate Athletic, who paid dearly for their ineffectiveness against the opposing goal. The Basques were able to score a few goals, almost as many as Villarreal, but nothing comes to them, and that’s how they have gone, in recent days, from seriously aspiring to get a European place, to staying away. They had, four days ago, the yellows to one point, with one game less, and they leave La Cerámica with ten less.
The fifth goal, which Baena scored almost on time, further buried an Athletic that played without a compass in the second half, and succumbed to its own inefficiency. Villarreal, meanwhile, stands firm and stalks the noble area.
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