Villarreal secured Champions League qualification on Sunday thanks to a 2-0 win at Valencia, just three seasons after their promotion back to La Liga.
First-half strikes from Samu Garcia and Adrian Lopez ensured Villarreal would finish the season fourth in La Liga as Celta Vigo’s defeat at Athletic Bilbao left the Yellow Submarine six points clear with two games remaining, Los Leones’ inferior head-to-head record playing against them.
“We’re enjoying the fruits what we’ve achieved,” Coach Marcelino said after the final whistle at Mestalla.
“We’ve confirmed an extraordinary season in the League.
“I think we deserve a lot of credit for what we’ve done. We’re grateful and proud.
“Throughout the season, we rotated regularly. We trust and involve everyone equally with our idea of playing.
“Now we can say that we have an extraordinary squad as we’ve won here with 10 changes [to the XI].
“[The players] have shown us respect, hard work, attitude and sacrifice.
“[On his conversation with President Fernando Roig after the game], I don’t know who out of us two was the happier!
“We’re all extremely pleased. Right now, we’re 20 points in front of Valencia and 11 of Sevilla.”
Villarreal’s last Champions League campaign came in the 2011-12 season, which also ended with the club suffering relegation to the second tier.