Villarreal stun Barcelona to secure European football for next season
Villarreal secured a famous 2-0 victory at the Camp Nou, as the Yellow Submarine got their first win over Barcelona in La Liga since 2008, and gave Unai Emery his first success at the stadium as a coach. Goals from Alfonso Pedraza and Moi Gomez saw Villarreal secure their qualification for next season’s Europa Conference League with a 7th place finish in La Liga as their campaign came to a close.
Barcelona's Gabonese midfielder Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reacts during the Spanish League football match between FC Barcelona and Villarreal CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on May 22, 2022.
Villarreal shocked Barcelona with a 2-0 victory at the Camp Nou in the final La Liga matchday of the season to seal their first win over La Blaugrana in La Liga in sixteen years, and secure their qualification for next season’s Europa Conference League.
The Yellow Submarine started the day in seventh place, one point ahead of Athletic Bilbao in eighth. Villarreal needed Athletic not to win away at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan against Sevilla to guarantee themselves European football for next season.
That proved to go in Villarreal’s favour, as Athletic suffered a 1-0 defeat.
Barcelona, meanwhile, had nothing to play for as Xavi’s side had already secured a second-place finish in La Liga.
Eager to go out in style in front of the fans in their last home match of the campaign, Barcelona made the better start, and penned Villarreal in their own half for the majority of the first period
Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli was called into action early on, as the Argentinian denied Ferran Torres’s half-volley at the near post.
For all of Barcelona’s dominance in possession, Villarreal looked dangerous in transition, and Unai Emery’s side took a shock lead against the run of play four minutes before half-time.
Alfonso Pedraza advanced from left-back to make a run into the box to latch onto Dani Parejo’s through ball from midfield, before he finished well beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen at the near post to get his fourth goal of the season.
Villarreal then doubled their advantage on 55 minutes, as Adama Traore’s clearance fell right to the feet of Moi Gomez inside the box, and the right winger had an easy finish from close range.
Barcelona thought they got on the scoresheet with fifteen minutes to go, but Frenkie de Jong’s tap-in was ruled out as Ansu Fati was offside in the build-up.
Villarreal held on to secure a famous victory at the Camp Nou - which is also Unai Emery’s first at the famous stadium as a manager.
TALKING POINT - VILLARREAL SEAL EUROPEAN FOOTBALL IN STYLE
Despite an underwhelming season in La Liga, which has seen Villarreal record eleven defeats - including to already relegated Alaves and Levante respectively, Unai Emery's side end the campaign on a hugely positive note. They have secured European football for next season, albeit in the Conference League. They will be the first Spanish side to take part in the competition.
This is also Villarreal's first league win over Barcelona since 2008, a run spanning sixteen long years, but that hoodoo is finally behind the Yellow Submarine, as they can look forward to new challenges next season. Despite only having four shots all game, the away side deserved their win. They picked their moments, and were clinical when they needed to be.
As for Unai Emery, the Villarreal manager will be pleased to hear that his side have scored 100 goals for the second consecutive season in all competitions
PLAYER OF THE MATCH - Alfonso Pedraza
Alfonso Pedraza of Villarreal celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Villarreal CF at Camp Nou on May 22, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain.
Image credit: Getty Images
Villarreal's left back had a brilliant game this evening, summed up with his strike to give his side the lead in the first half.
Two things made the goal; Dani Parejo's excellent through ball over the top, and Pedraza's attacking instincts to make the run into the penalty area from defence so he could get the shot away.
In total, Pedraza had two shots on target, won three successful tackles, made two clearances and made three interceptions.
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.
41’ - GOAL! (Alfonso Pedraza) - Pedraza has given the away side the lead at the Camp Nou! The full-back advances into the penalty area and latches onto a through pass from deep by Parejo. Pedraza gets his shot away just before Traore can get there and his effort beats Ter Stegen at his near post!
44’ - BIG SAVE BY RULLI! - What a strike by Torres! Alves finds him at the back post with a floated cross, and the attacker hits the ball first-time on the volley, but the Villarreal goalkeeper gets a hand to it to palm it away!
55’ - GOAL! (Moi Gomez) - Moi Gomez rifles the ball in from close range after a shocking error by Adama Traore! The ball is played out wide by Parejo for Pedraza down the left channel, but Traore gets there to make the interception. However, inexplicably, he hooks the ball clear without any thought, and it lands right at the feet of Moi Gomez 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! - That call rules out a Barcelona goal! Alves initially goes for a long-range strike from outside the box, which is dealt with unconvincingly by Rulli. Fati, who was in an offside position, goes in for the rebound, but Albiol clears it off the line. De Jong then bundles it in, but the flag is already up and the goal is chalked off.
Villarreal have become the first ever Spanish side to play in the UEFA Conference League.
Villarreal seal their first league win over Barcelona since March 2008 (a 2-1 win at the Camp Nou).
Dani Parejo's ten assists in La Liga mean he is joint-top of the assist table, alongside Iker Muniain and Jordi Alba.