Points shared tonight at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán as VAR stops the Yellow Submarine from sinking Sevilla hearts after disallowing a last-minute goal from Ben Brereton Díaz. We managed to hold onto the draw after Kike Salas's goal was quickly cancelled out by José Luis Morales
It was a somewhat tense atmosphere on this cold December’s Sunday night, just three days after the crushing Champions League defeat to PSV Eindhoven, with Diego Alonso’s much-changed line-up desperate to redeem themselves. Although we retained possession well in the opponents’ half, the first fifteen minutes provided little in the way of clear chances for either team. The first real opportunity came in the sixteenth minute, Rakitic free kick found Lukebakio on the left-hand side, then laid it off back to the Croatian, who sent another ball to the far-post, before it fell to En-Nesyri, who headed it just wide of the post.
Villarreal looked quite dangerous on the counter in the last 20 minutes of the first half, with plenty of pace up front. Morales threatened a lot, but thankfully the backline did enough to race back and cover their tracks. The forward created a similarly fiendish chance five minutes later, but our defence – spearheaded by Nianzou, who made his first league start in – coped well. Our centre-back made a crucial block of Gerrard Moreno’s shot, then played a terrific pass which landed in the box and fell to Sow, whose shot went over the bar.
For the remainder of the half, most of the danger was created in wide areas. Acuña’s cross into the packed box on 35 minutes was denied by Jorgensen’s outreaching arm, but Jorgensen stuck out his hand to deny us an edge, despite applying plenty of pressure. Ocampos whips in another powerful cross that strayed over the bar. Finally, in the final minute of additional time, Fernando picks up the ball, drives forward and finds En-Nesyri whose close-range shot by Jorgensen, who tips it away to Ocampos, but his follow-up shot is blocked by the defender.
Dmitrovic and Juanlu were called into action quickly after the restart, with our no. 1 forced to make a big save, while the right-back - deputising for Jesús Navas - made a goal-line clearance after Morales released a shot in the box. Then, two minutes later, he almost turned provider when whipped in a fabulous cross that met the feet of Lukebakio, who volleyed it over the bar. Dmitrovic then rallied the troops and distributed the ball to Juanlu, who went on a brilliant run all the way to the Villarreal box and brought it within inches of the keeper, with the connecting pass put wide.
Full backs were responsible for a large part of the goalscoring opportunities in the second hald – left-backs Pedrosa and counterpart Pedraza, as well as rightbacks Juanlu and Juan Foyth. Yet, it was the introduction of Kike Salas in the 72nd minute that proved crucial for the home side. Within three minutes, he converted put us ahead by converting a cross from Adria Pedrosa, after a string of similar chances. However, the visitors looked to respond quickly and their pressure quickly paid off when Morales received the ball on the left wing and fired his effort past Dmitrovic, devastating the crowd.
Pedrosa came to our rescue once more when Morales put them Gerard Moreno through on goal, dashing the box to close him down before he could release a shot. Juanlu continued to provide crosses for En-Nesyri into the box, with one particular ball falling to Pedrosa, only for his shot to fall straight into the hands of Jorgensen.
The game seemed settled, but in the dying minutes of stoppage time, Villarreal substitute Brereton-Diaz forced his way through the defence and stormed into the box, slotting it past Dmitrovic, with the Yellow Submarine believing they had sunk Sevilla hearts at the death. However, VAR ruled that the Chilean striker fouled Salas in the build-up to his strike, disallowing the goal. The decision saw us hold on to secure the point, which takes us four points. We now head into the new week looking for a win at Atlético Astorga.