FC Barcelona B started the New Year with a strong performance at El Madrigal, against Villarreal CF. Goals from Carles Planas and Cristian Lobato coupled with an own goal by Villarreal defender Jaume Costa were enough to hand the Yellow Submarine their first home loss of the season. The only scorer for the hosts was Marcos Senna who successfully converted a penalty kick.
Starting XI: Jordi Masip; Ivan Balliu, David Lombán, Carles Planas, Alejandro Grimaldo; Gustavo Ledes, Sergi Roberto, Cristian Lobato; Kiko Femenia, Luis Alberto, Gerard Deulofeu
Bench: Miguel Bañuz, Edgar Ié, Sergi Gómez, Ilie Sanchez, Javier Espinosa, Joan Angel Román, Sergio Araujo
There were quite a few changes in the starting line-up for this game. After small injuries Lomban and Lobato returned, taking places of Gomez, who returned to the bench, and Rafinha, who is with the Brazilian U-20 national team. Masip replaced Oier Olazabal in goal, remember, Oier received a red card in the game against Girona and will miss the next game as well. Patric was also suspended for this game after reaching the yellow card quota and was replaced by Balliu. Kiko made a rare start after a place on the wing opened up because Lobato moved to the midfield.
Before the kickoff everybody expected that this game would be a very open affair with numerous scoring opportunities for both teams. And the game didn't disappoint. In the opening ten minutes we could've seen two goals, one by either team. First Villarreal striker Fernando Cavenaghi fired from a dangerous position, but Masip did very well to keep the ball out of the net. On the very next play Kiko had a chance to put Barcelona B in the lead, but his shot grazed the outside part of the post.
After that miss by Kiko, Villarreal started to dominate the midfield which led to several chances for the Submarine. Cavenaghi and Ikechukwu Uche were the players who had the best chances, but neither could find a way past the in-form Masip. In the 19th minute Masip made an outstanding close range save on Cavenaghi. Afterward, Manu Trigueros had the opportunity to bury the rebound, but his shot sailed over the crossbar. Uche also missed a couple golden chances to put his team in the lead.
The Barça youngsters woke up again in the final ten minutes of the half and quickly created a few half-chances, but Villarreal's backup goalkeeper Juan Carlos wasn't tested. That changed at the stroke of halftime when Olof Mellberg blocked Balliu's shot with his hand, resulting in a penalty kick. Deulofeu stepped and fired a good shot to Carlos' right, but the keeper made an acrobatic save to deny the young winger.
However, from the resulting corner kick Barça would take the lead. Planas was first to the rebound left by the goalkeeper after he excellently saved Lomban's header, and fired Barça in the lead. The goal was Planas' first professional tally in his career, in his fifth season as a professional.
The added time goal allowed Barcelona to take a 1-0 lead to halftime. Even though he missed the penalty kick, Deulofeu had a strong first half, but the best player of the half was without a doubt Masip who made several outstanding saves to keep his net untouched.
Masip had to remain on his toes in the second half as Villarreal came pressing hard out of the tunnel. Cavenaghi again had the opportunity to get the Yellow Submarine on the board, but Masip had his number all day. Jonathan Pereira also saw his shot saved by Masip.
In the 67th Eusebio made the first substitution of the game, replacing Deulofeu with a defensive minded midfielder. As a result of the substitution Lobato moved to the wing.
Despite the more defensive formation Villarreal continued to create chances, but against the run of play, in the 73rd minute, Lobato scored a fantastic goal to double Barça's lead. Lobato received a lovely pass from Alberto on the left side, cut to the middle near the penalty box and fired an unstoppable curling shot inside the far post.
Villarreal quickly replied with a goal of their own. Uche drew a penalty kick after a foul by Planas, which earned the Barça defender a yellow card. Senna stepped up to take it and calmly fired Villarreal within one. Masip guessed the direction of the shot, but it was just too powerful and accurate to be saved.
After the penalty kick Araujo replaced Lobato on the pitch.
Unlike against Girona in the previous game, Barcelona B didn't get discouraged and tried to restore the two goal lead. Alberto made a fantastic run past three defenders after getting the ball near midfield, but his shot on goal just missed the target.
However, Villarreal weren't without their own changes and in the final stage of the game it appeared it was just a matter of time before they will score. And in the 85th minute they did, but the problem (for them at least) was that the ball went in Villarreal's net, as Costa scored an own goal. Roberto was sent through on goal all alone, but the keeper saved his shot, however, the rebound hit Costa, who was following the play, and trickled in the net to put the game out of reach.
In the 88th minute Eusebio made his final substitution, with Roman taking Alberto's place on the pitch. With just minutes remaining Villarreal appeared to give in to their fate and the game came to an uneventful end, with Barcelona B winning their first game of 2013.
The win propelled Barça to fifth place in the Segunda División. The youngsters will be in action again in the same time slot as against Villarreal, on Saturday at 6pm CET.