Villarreal travelled to Bergamo this evening to take on Atalanta in a Champions League tie of titanic importance. The match was supposed to take place yesterday evening, but heavy snowfall forced UEFA to postpone the fixture for exactly 23 hours.
The Yellow Submarine were second in Group F heading into the game, four points behind Manchester United and one ahead of Atalanta. They knew that if they avoided defeat they’d make it to the last 16, and that’s exactly what they did. They won 3-2.
Villarreal struck first blood and took the lead inside three minutes. Dani Parejo released Arnaut Danjuma in on goal, and the Dutchman made no mistake once the chance presented itself. He finished coolly, between the legs of the opposing goalkeeper.
The Yellow Submarine doubled their advantage shortly before half-time. This time it was Etienne Capoue who delivered the blow, finishing superbly close to goal. Danjuma struck again to make it 3-0 at the beginning of the second half, this time rolling the ball past the goalkeeper after good work from Gerard Moreno.
Ruslan Malinovsky pulled on back in the 71st minute to spark hopes of a late revival, finishing accurately from outside the box, before Duvan Zapata scored a second to really unsettle Spanish nerves. But it was too little, too late for the Italians.
“We knew we were going to suffer, but the team went out to win from the first moment,” Moreno said post-match as carried by Diario AS. “We showed it and going a goal up gave us peace of mind. The team played a great game in both defence and attack. We have to congratulate ourselves for the work we’ve done.
“We needed this victory to be among the 16 best in Europe. Our journey in the Champions League has been very good and hopefully this will help us to climb the league table. We have to make this joy last and prove that we’re a great team. If we’re playing well, at our highest level, we can beat anyone.”