Villareal win thriller to go second
Villarreal climbed up to second in La Liga after seeing off ten-man Malaga in a hugely entertaining encounter, finishing 3-2, at La Rosaleda tonight.
All the key incidents came during a breathless first half, which saw hosts Malaga take an early lead through Eliseu Pereira before Villarreal hit back with goals from Santi Cazorla and Giuseppe Rossi.
Malaga, looking for their first home win since beating Villarreal 2-0 in March of last season, levelled the scores when Jose Salomon Rondon headed home but the Yellow Submarine restored their lead in the 33rd minute, with Cazorla netting his second. That proved to be the winning goal as Malaga could find no way back, and Eliseu was shown a straight red card in the 41st minute.
Villarreal went into the clash having won three successive league matches since losing to Espanyol on the opening day of the season but they were quickly on the back foot after conceding just four minutes in.
A short free-kick was played to the corner of the penalty area where Eliseu smashed an unstoppable left-footed shot in off the underside off the bar with Villarreal goalkeeper Diego Lopez motionless.
The visitors were back on terms 16 minutes later, though, thanks to Cazorla, whose shot from the corner of the box took a deflection off Malaga midfielder Antonio Apono before beating Ruben Martinez at his near post.
Three minutes later Villarreal were in front following a fine goal from Rossi. Nilmar played in the Italian international, who took the ball in his stride before rolling his shot past Ruben and just inside the far post.
The end-to-end contest produced another goal in the 29th minute when Malaga made it 2-2 through Rondon, who had the easy task of heading in from six yards out following great work down the left by Quincy Owusu-Abeyie.
Villarreal would not be denied, however, and just moments after Marcos Senna flashed a 30-yard drive just over Cazorla netted the winner. The Spain midfielder played a one-two with Nilmar before creating some space on the edge of the box and firing a low left-footed shot into the corner of the net.
All of that was in the opening 33 minutes but there was more to come before half-time as Malaga were reduced to 10 men. Portugal international Eliseu squared up to Carlos Marchena after the Villarreal centre-back had conceded a free-kick on the edge of his area, and as the two touched heads the Spanish World Cup winner fell to the ground.
An angry Eliseu was far from impressed by the decision to dismiss him but his departure left Malaga with a mountain to climb to avoid their third home defeat of the season, and they were unable to turn things around during a second period that unsurprisingly lacked the excitement of the first.