Alaves keep the faith alive by seeing off sloppy Villarreal


Alaves 2-1 Villarreal

Nobody was under any illusions that Villarreal would be resting players in this match, but what will have irritated Unai Emery more than anything was just how obvious it was that their minds were elsewhere in the first half.

Alaves took the lead within minutes, a Joselu flick on from a corner finding captain Victor Laguardia to head home after just 4 minutes. Villarreal then hogged the ball and played like the side with more resources, but without the level of competition needed to penetrate a deep defence. The exception to that was Samuel Chukwueze who lacked the final ball for the most part but terrorised Ruben Duarte with his jerky changes of direction. Alfonso Pedraza flashed one of his crosses narrowly wide.

When Alaves broke on the half hour mark, they were close to a second with an excellent ball across the box. When that was cleared, Duarte had plenty of time to put in another cross, as Serge Aurier admired him from a distance, which was converted by the always onrushing Gonzalo Escalante.

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The game burst into life in the second half as another run from Chukwueze ended in a shot inside the box. Once again the end product wasn’t ideal, but Fernando Pacheco in the Alaves goal helped it through his legs.

That left over 40 minutes with everything to play for and Emery brought several of his starters against Liverpool on to get that second goal. As the game stretched, at times there was inevitability about the goal. Juan Foyth cleared a shot off the line and Laguardia came close from a magnificent leap too.

At the other end the pressure was mounting though. Brilliant work from Manu Trigueros sent Paco Alcacer through one-on-one but neither he nor Giovani Lo Celso with the follow-up were good for a goal. Pacheco, whose error made the first goal, was given the perfect opportunity to make up for it with two big saves from Alcacer late on.

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At the final whistle, Julio Velazquez sprinted down the tunnel in Diego Simeone style and there was plenty of suffering too. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but the pursuit of that has been replaced by the quest for points and in this case, they got them.

With four games remaining, Alaves keep their slim hopes alive, with just four points now separating them from safety. Villarreal stay seventh and now have public permission to focus on their second leg with Liverpool.

Source by Football Espana

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