Arguably the form side of in LaLiga kicked off the Saturday fixtures with a damaging defeat at El Sadar.
Villarreal travelled to Osasuna with the knowledge that a win could temporarily propel them into the Champions League places, leapfrogging three teams in the process.
The Yellow Submarine were in good form, coming into the match with three wins from their last five league matches, in which they scored 14 goals. Sandwiched between those Liga matches was a Champions League battle against Juventus.
Osasuna’s terrible home record – just twice have they had tasted victory – was an ominous omen, given their inconsistencies this year.
Yet such is the beauty of football, that absolutely none of this had anything to do with the game. Villarreal asserted spells of control in the first half, but failed to make Osasuna pay for any of it. Osasuna’s backline was determined to make the difference and when they were breached by an old member of the club, Pervis Estupinan, the offside flag was there to dig them out.
A few set-pieces nervously passed through the Villarreal box, but that was the only real danger from the home side in the first half. Striker Chimy Avila said that he called on Osasuna to wake up and respond to Villarreal, as before they were asleep, despite the noisy El Sadar.
Wake up they did though. In the second half, Osasuna’s 4-4-2 recalled some of the best of Jagoba Arrasate’s work, as they closed ranks stoutly and released that pressure into quick breaks. One of these, started by Lucas Torro, sent Ruben Garcia down the left touchline. Lofting a ball into the area, naturally it was the smallest man in there who rose highest – above Estupinan – to head down into the corner. Chimy Avila, as he always does, celebrated wildly.
A nasty-looking twist to Alberto Moreno’s knee further soured proceedings for Unai Emery, who changed the personnel but was unable to rewrite the script. Osasuna, convinced of their work, held sturdy and denied the visitors clear chances until the whistle went.
Villarreal will have to wait in seventh to see how much damage was done, with their rivals playing after. Osasuna move ahead of Valencia into ninth, free to enjoy their weekend in the knowledge they have already been productive.