Villarreal 1-1 Sevilla
The narrative running through this match was just how tired and mentally exhausted Villarreal would be after their Champions League efforts in midweek. Yet what they did to Liverpool in the first half of this match they more or less maintained for all of this one. More or less.
Both sides came out the traps looking to score but Villarreal were better at doing so. Youssef En-Nesyri was thankful for the offside flag when Geronimo Rulli saved one-on-one, while Ivan Rakitic let loose from range and had the ball moving at pace.
Yet those efforts paled in comparison to the siege that Villarreal would lay on Yassine Bounou’s goal. Samuel Chukwueze terrorised Marcos Acuna in the first half, striking the bar and creating problems mostly right but often centre. Bounou then began on his heroic series of saves from first Juan Foyth, then Pau Torres, before rushing out to prevent Giovani Lo Celso. As the chances were replayed in slow motion, the Moroccan seemed to speed up – always in the right place to snap out at a hand.
Analysts waited for Villarreal to drop off from their physical efforts and it appeared as if Sevilla were waiting for something too. The Yellow Submarine continued to dominate, with Etienne Capoue coming close to a penalty. Jules Kounde scored a fantastic header at the back post, past his own ‘keeper, but a lengthy VAR review determined Boulaye Dia was offside.
Incredulity grew around La Ceramica as Sevilla continued to keep things level by holy prayers and rosary beads, until Giovani Lo Celso finally broke the deadlock. Nemanja Gudelj couldn’t clear a cross from the left properly and Lo Celso’s volley into the ground bounced high into the net beyond ‘Bono’. Slipping in the process, Villarreal needed that unpredictability to beat Bono.
Finally Unai Emery’s side had their lead, with three minutes to go and Sevilla hardly created a chance. Until the 96th minute. An Acuna corner narrowly missed Bono’s head, but was won by Rafa Mir. Bouncing in the six-yard box, Kounde reacted quickest to prod past Rulli and spark the wildest Sevilla celebrations. The incredulity was back in La Ceramica after an absence of barely 10 minutes.
The Yellow Submarine sunk to the floor on the final whistle. On Tuesday night they gave their all but the defeat was easily understandable against an excellent Liverpool. This draw will take a lot more working out.