Villarreal — Spartak — 2:0 (1:0)
Venue: Villarreal, Estadio de la Ceramica, 13.12.
Referee: А. Treimanis (Latvia).
Villarreal: Fernandez, Gaspar, Gonzales, Ruiz, Jaume Costa, Caseres, Fornals, Fuego, Chukweze (Cazorla, 80), Moreno (Pedraza, 7), Toko-Ekambi (Bacca, 72).
Unused subs: Asenjo, Mori, Layun, Trigueros.
«Спартак»: Maksimenko, Rasskazov, Kutepov, Dzhikiya, Melgarejo, Glushakov (c), Popov, Lomovitski (Tashaev, 54), Hanni (Pedro Rocha, 67), Luiz Adriano (Jano, 74), Ze Luis.
Unused subs: Selikhov, Petkovic, Timofeev, Samedov.
Голы: 1:0 Chukweze (10), 2:0 Toko-Ekambi (48).
Bookings: Lomovitski (22), Gonzales (71), Ze Luis (85), Dzhikiya (90), Kutepov (90+1), Fernandez (90+2).
Dismissal: Jaume Costa (90).
Our team travelled to Spain five days prior to the match. Back then the weather at the Pyrenees eastern coast was splendid: sunny, 17-18C. On matchday it took a turn for the worse though, the temperature dropping to 12C, with rain thrown into the mix. Villarreal also approached the game with a new head coach, which tends to give teams additional motivation. Luis Garcia, the Yellow Submarine’s new head coach, also brought a familiar face to his coaching staff — Eduardo Dominguez. He used to work as a physio in Valery Karpin’s set-up at Spartak.
With the mounting injuries to first team players, Oleg Kononov had little room for manoeuvre with his team selection. This was especially noticeable at full-back at in the holding position. Spartak started the match at Estadio de la Ceramica with exactly the same group of players as they did at the weekend in Makhachkala. However we were facing a very different opponent tonight.
Only a win could see us through to the next round, so we turned on high pressing from the very first minutes. The Spaniards were alright with playing end-to-end football, but were better at controlling the ball. Meanwhile we lacked the ability to turn defense into attack quickly and were punished for it. Chukweze’s pop at goal from inside the box went between Melgarejo’s legs and caught Maksimenko off guard.
We could have equalized almost immediately. Ze Luis’ headed effort was parried away for a corner, before Adriano nearly converted Popov’s low cross. Glushakov picked up the mantle with a cannon shot soon — off target. Our most dangerous moment of the half happened following a solo run from Ze Luis on the 35th minute: however Hanni’s shot from the corner of the six-yard box hit the keeper on the shoulder and went out for a corner.
The second half kicked off with Glushakov firing a free-kick just wide of the post. Soon after we found ourselves 2-0 down, after Ekambi’s one-two with Fornals allowed the former to slot home past Maksimenko from a tight angle.
The teams exchanged gilt-edged chances right after. Villarreal had their post to thank after Ze Luis’ was given a free header inside the box, before Moreno saw his effort saved and rebound crash against the bar. Glushakov then lacked precision to find the corner from outside the box, while Maksimenko came to the rescue twice at the other end.
The hosts finished the match with ten men after Costa’s cynical foul from behind on Jano, but there was little time left at this point to change the result of the match...