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La Liga: Villarreal CF 2-3 FC Barcelona: Match Review

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Recap of Barcelona's crazy come from behind win against Villarreal.

For Tito...
For Tito...
David Ramos

In an absolutely bonkers game at the Madrigal Barcelona overturned a 2-0 deficit and stole a win from the jaws of defeat. Villarreal raced to a two-goal lead with strikes from Cani and Manu Trigueros, but their teammates, Gabriel Paulista and Mateo Musacchio, scored own goals to level the score with about 10 minutes left to play. But that was all the time that Lionel Messi needed to score a goal and win Barcelona the three points.


Villarreal CF


FC Barcelona


Possession


26%


74%


Total Shots


5


20


Shots on Target


3


7


Pass Accuracy


69%


90%


Corners


2


9


Fouls


12


6


Offsides


3


2


Yellow Cards


3


3


Red Cards


0


0





Gerardo Martino didn't make many changes from the 18-man squad that overturned the 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao. Actually, just a single one was made as Sergio Busquets returned from his one-game suspension which sent Alex Song back to the Barcelona bench.

Before the game there was a moment of silence for the recently passed Tito Vilanova. It was a very emotional moment for the Barcelona players and staff, and many shed a tear or two.

Barça started the game in very strong fashion, immediately bringing the game to Villarreal. Most of the play came down the right side where Messi spent the majority of time in the early going. The Catalans might not have been getting many good looks on goal, but it was evident from the first minute that the players were up for this one.

The first shot on target, in fact the first shot of any kind, didn't come until the 8th minute when Xavi fired a free kick straight into the hands of a well positioned Sergio Asenjo. Barça's relentless pressure didn't stop, but the Villarreal defense didn't allow many chances. The next dangerous play didn't come until the 16th minute when Messi and Alexis Sanchez tried a one-two deep in the area, but the play was well snuffed out by the defense. The very next minute Messi made a run on the right side and fired a good shot on goal, but Asenjo kicked the ball out of danger.

Villarreal didn't spend much time in Barcelona's half, but on the very next play Mario Gaspar made a long run down the right side before he cut to the middle and fired from 25-yards out but missed the target. About five minutes later the Yellow Submarine went on another attack that saw Jonathan Pereira have a good look on goal, but Marc Bartra made the crucial block.

At this point in the game the hosts started to press higher up the pitch, a tactic that proved to be quite effective as Barcelona lost possession many times in transition. That, in turn, gave Villarreal many chances on the counter attack and none were better in the opening 30 minutes than the cross to Giovani Dos Santos that the Mexican couldn't connect with to put into a wide open net.

Villarreal transitioned very quickly from the high pressure to a low box of ten defenders when Barcelona managed to carry the ball into the Villarreal half which resulted in very little work for the hosts' goalkeeper in the first half.

In the 35th minute Villarreal were already forced to make their second substitution. First, in the 14th minute, an injured Jérémy Perbet was replaced by Jonathan Pereira, and on the second sub Tomas Pina had to leave the pitch and was replaced by Javier Aquino.

Barcelona then managed to once again pin Villarreal back, but with the Yellow Submarine playing with everybody back there was not much room for Barça to make its way through. However, Alexis made a lovely run down the right side and sent a great cross to the middle, but Xavi's shot, which was destined for the far post, was blocked.

The final minutes of the half, though, were all Villarreal who created two clear cut chances on the counter attack. First Dos Santos found a wide open Aquino near the penalty spot who fired first time, but didn't strike it cleanly and saw his shot cleared off the line by Marc Bartra. Then, in added time, Pereira found Cani, who was also uncovered, who made no mistake from the edge of the penalty box and put Villarreal in the lead going into the halftime break.

The second half started with neither side making any changes and continued in similar fashion as the first one went, with Barcelona dominating the ball. Though in this half it took Barcelona only four minutes to get their first shot off, but once again Asenjo was there to make the stop.

But things went downhill quickly again as after another good save on a free kick by Asenjo, Villarreal launched a quick counter and doubled their lead. Aquino outplayed the entire left side of Barcelona's defense and sent a perfect cross to the trailing Trigueros, who powered a header just inside the post.

Now facing what appeared to be an insurmountable challenge Barcelona immediately returned to the attack and within two minutes had a chance to halve the deficit, but once again there was Asenjo who made a brilliant adjustment after the ball took a deflection on its way on goal.

Just after the one hour mark Tata Martino made a double substitution, taking Alexis and Xavi off the pitch and replacing them with Cristian Tello and Cesc Fabregas.

Barcelona finally managed to get on the scoreboard in the 65th with some help from the Villarreal defense. With acres of space Dani Alves waited for the right moment the get the ball to the middle, but his eventual cross was picked out by Gabriel, who with what can only be described as a brilliant back-heel put the ball past his own goalkeeper.

With (half a) chance now to get something out of the game Barcelona continued to attack, but all chances seemed to end with a poor Alves cross. But in the 78th minute Alves' cross found the head of Musacchio who expertly headed the ball into his own net to tie the score at two even though Villarreal players scored all four goals.

Things would get even worse for the hosts as just five minutes later Busquets outplayed the entire defense with a brilliant over the top ball to Cesc who headed it to a wide open Messi in the middle who made no mistake from close range and incredibly put Barcelona in the lead.

But the drama didn't stop there as just a minute later Villarreal had penalty claim with Busquets bringing down Aquino on the very edge of the box, but a free kick was given mere inches outside. Villarreal still managed to threaten from it, but Pinto was able (on the second try) to clear the ball out of danger.

The final minutes of the game were more calm as Barcelona stepped on the ball once again and calmly brought the game to and end. The win keeps Barcelona in the hunt for the La Liga title, but with both Madrid-based also taking care of their business the Catalan side continues to look for help from the rest of league.

Roll Call:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 522
Total commenters 34
Commenter list AL_LM10, Anders Thomassen, Artemis11, BenX6, Blancoparasiempre, Bostjan Cernensek, Eddie Pundell, FCB.HKHME, FCB4Ever, Harshiv Karia, Inder Methil, LaSenyera, Maaz Rehman, NoImagination90, Ricardo Blonde, Richzorz, Ruy Diaz, Scratch and Snif, Shieldsteiger, Som-i-Serem, Stavrolini, Uncharted_Almo, ViscaViscaBarca, brodiebomber, craig00000, cule-since-1992, feeya7, footballfordoze, littlelitefeet, messism, rnmrqz, siempre_riquelme, sudama.baraily, syredeathtrooper
# Commenter # Comments
1 Artemis11 65
2 Anders Thomassen 62
3 Bostjan Cernensek 45
4 NoImagination90 45
5 craig00000 41
6 Inder Methil 38
7 syredeathtrooper 37
8 brodiebomber 28
9 siempre_riquelme 22
10 Som-i-Serem 17