Villarreal stun Barcelona to secure European football for next season

Villarreal shocked Barcelona with a 2-0 win at the Camp Nou on the final La Liga matchday of the season to seal their first La Liga win over La Blaugrana in sixteen years and secure qualification for next season’s Europa Conference League to back up.

The Yellow Submarine started the day in seventh place, a point ahead of Athletic Bilbao in eighth place. Villarreal needed Athletic not to win against Sevilla in the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to secure European football for next season.

That went in Villarreal’s favour, as Athletic suffered a 1-0 defeat.

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Barcelona, ​​meanwhile, had nothing to offer as Xavi’s side had already finished second in La Liga.

Eager to appear in style in front of the fans in the last home game of the season, Barcelona got off to the better start and penned Villarreal in their own half for most of the first half

Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli was brought on early when the Argentine saved a Ferran Torres half-volley at the near post.

For all Barcelona’s possession dominance, Villarreal looked dangerous in the transition game and Unai Emery’s side surprisingly took the lead four minutes before half-time against the flow of play.

Alfonso Pedraza advanced from the left-back position, charged into the box and snatched up Dani Parejo’s through ball from midfield before going wide of Marc-Andre ter Stegen at the near post to score his fourth goal of the season.

Villarreal then doubled their lead in the 55th minute when Adama Traore’s free-kick fell right at Moi Gomez’s feet in the penalty area and the right winger had an easy finish from close range.

Barcelona thought they would move into the top scorer list with fifteen minutes to go but Frenkie de Jong’s tap-in was ruled out as Ansu Fati was flagged for offside ahead of time.

Villarreal secured a famous win at the Camp Nou – which is also Unai Emery’s first at the famous stadium as a manager.

THEME – VILLARREAL SEALS EUROPEAN FOOTBALL IN STYLE

Despite an overwhelming La Liga season in which Villarreal suffered 11 defeats – including to already relegated Alaves and Levante respectively – Unai Emery’s side ended the campaign on a very positive note. They’ve secured European football for next season, albeit in the Conference League. They will be the first Spanish team to take part in the competition.

This is also Villarreal’s first league win over Barcelona since 2008, a streak spanning sixteen long years, but that hoodoo is finally behind the Yellow Submarine as they look forward to new challenges next season. Despite only having four shots in the entire game, the visitors deserved to win. They picked their moments and were clinical when needed.

As for Unai Emery, the Villarreal manager will be delighted to hear his side have scored 100 goals in all competitions for the second straight season

PLAYER OF THE MATCH – Alfonso Pedraza

Alfonso Pedraza of Villarreal celebrates after scoring his first goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Villarreal CF at Camp Nou on May 22, 2022 in Barcelona, ​​Spain.

Photo credit: Getty Images

The Villarreal left-back put on a brilliant game tonight that ended with his goal that put his side ahead in the first half.

Two things made the goal; Dani Parejo’s excellent through ball through the top and Pedraza’s attacking instinct to run from defense into the box so he can put the shot away.

Overall, Pedraza had two shots on target, won three successful tackles, made two clearances and made three interceptions.

PLAYER RATINGS

FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen (6), Alves (7), Araujo (6), Lenglet (6), Alba (6), De Jong (6), Busquets (6), Gavi (6), Traore (5), Torres (6 ), Aubameyang (6). subs: Fati 6, Puig 6, Mingueza 6, Depay 6, Dembele 6.

FC Villarreal: Rulli 7, Gaspar 6, Albiol 7, Torres 7, Pedraza 8, Trigueros 6, Parejo 7, Capoue 7, Gomez 7, Alcacer 6, Lo Celso 6. Subtitle: Jackson 6, Aurier 6, Pena 6, Chukwueze 6, Estupinan 6.

KEY MOMENTS

41′ – Goal! (Alfonso Pedraza) – Pedraza put the away team ahead at the Camp Nou! The full-back moves into the penalty area and latches onto a through ball from Parejo. Pedraza gets his shot away just before Traore can get there and his shot hits ter Stegen at his near post!

44′ – BIG RESCUE BY RULLI! – What a shot from Torres! Alves finds it with a floating cross at the back post and the attacker volleys the ball for the first time, but the Villarreal keeper puts it away with his hands!

55′ – Goal! (Moi Gomez) – Moi Gomez fires the ball in from close range after a shocking mistake by Adama Traore! The ball is played into the left channel by Parejo for Pedraza, but Traore gets there to intercept the ball. However, he inexplicably hooks the ball clear without a second thought and it lands right in front of Moi Gomez’s feet in the box and the Villarreal man does the rest! A first win against Barcelona since 2008 seems very close now!

73′ – Goal ruled out! – This call rules out a goal from Barcelona! Alves initially relies on a long-range shot from outside the penalty area, which Rulli does not convert convincingly. Fati, who was offside, goes for the rebound but Albiol clears on the line. De Jong then bundles it up, but the flag is already up and the goal is chalked off.

KEY STATISTICS

  • Villarreal are the first Spanish side ever to play in the UEFA Conference League.
  • Villarreal seal their first league win over Barcelona since March 2008 (a 2-1 win at Camp Nou).
  • Dani Parejo’s ten assists in La Liga means he sits at the top of the assists table alongside Iker Muniain and Jordi Alba.

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