Villarreal reign at El Madrigal
Villarreal got their UEFA Europa League Group D campaign up and running with a deserved victory over 10-man Club Brugge at El Madrigal.
The so-called Yellow Submarine, who are enjoying a good start to the domestic Spanish season, lost to Dinamo Zagreb in their opening group outing but bounced back in this one thanks to goals in either half from Giuseppe Rossi and Gonzalo Rodriguez. Club Brugge played most of the match a man light following the 25th-minute dismissal of Ronald Vargas for violent conduct, and while Ryan Donk pulled them level on the stroke of the interval, the hosts just had enough in reserve to get over the finishing line thanks to Gonzalo's winner.
Villarreal frontman Jozy Altidore forced a save from Club Brugge goalkeeper Geert De Vlieger inside five minutes as the hosts made the early running. De Vlieger was called into action again on eight minutes, getting his fingertips to Ruben Cani's goalbound shot.
Altidore was again menacing the Brugge backline on 18 minutes but De Vlieger stood up to the chance, this time saving with his feet from the American's low drive from just inside the area. Brugge's task became all the harder on 25 minutes when Vargas picked up a straight red for appearing to swing an elbow at Lopez Angel.
The hosts made their man advantage tell on 41 minutes when Joan Capdevila picked up the ball from a short corner and played the ball low across the face of the goal for Rossi to slide in and convert.
The visitors pulled level on the stroke of half-time, however, after Capdevila upended Jonathan Blondel. Junior Diaz took the free-kick short to Blondel, and his centre was well met by Donk, who got the telling touch amid a throng of players.
De Vlieger did well to deny Jefferson Montero two minutes after the restart as the Spanish side pushed to restore their lead. They were soon rewarded for their enterprise with their second goal on 56 minutes, Montero doing superbly well to slide in and cross the ball from the right by-line for Gonzalo, who rose above two defenders to head home.
The visitors suffered another setback moments later when they lost goalkeeper De Vlieger to injury, while his replacement Colin Coosemans was quickly in the action to keep out Rossi's long-range drive. Coosemans had to be on his toes to deny Montero and Santi Cazorla late on, but Villarreal had done enough to pick up the three points.