Villarreal keep Europa League hopes alive after clinical Vallecas show

Rayo Vallecano 1-5 Villarreal

Villarreal battered Sevilla at the weekend and could only breach Sevilla’s defence in the 86th minute. This time, everything they touched turned to goal.

Rayo Vallecano’s bravery has been rightly lauded throughout the season and it’s rare they have conceded several goals in one go, but the first half of this match was defined by Villarreal finding their way through the Rayo pressure.

This started early from a set-piece, as Alfonso Pedraza escaped his marker and sent an excellent header inside the far post. Rayo responded just after the 20-minute mark. A quintessential Rayo goal, Alvaro Garcia came down the left and cut back for Sergi Guardiola. His miscue worked as an excellent dummy, flooring the Villarreal defenders and allowing him to finish into the corner.

Villarreal never looked back after that however. A well-worked set-piece routine ended with Pedraza hooking the ball onto Juan Foyth’s head. Pedraza then threaded the needle with his weaker foot for Paco Alcacer, who took his time before prodding home. Pau Torres ended the half and perhaps the match with another set-piece goal, tapping in at the far post.

To their credit, Rayo Vallecano came forward for most of the second half, refusing to throw in the towel. Instead they launched multiple crosses into the box, the closest they came was a disallowed goal which came off Alejandro Catena’s arm.

There was one final moment of delight for Villarreal fans. In the closing stages, Pedraza streamed forward again and receiving the ball back close to Rayo’s box, cut in and curled the ball into the top corner with his right again.

The victory will do little to damage Rayo Vallecano, beyond their pride. For the Yellow Submarine, it’s a valuable three points which allows them to overtake Real Sociedad in sixth place if they can beat them on Sunday.

Tags La Liga Rayo Vallecano Villarreal
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