Villarreal CF ended their Group E campaign with a scintillating performance, beating Egaleo FC 4-0 thanks to four beautifully executed goals by Hector Font, Antonio Guayre, Javi Venta and Santiago Cazorla. The win sees them leapfrog FK Partizan, who lost 3-0 away to Middlesbrough FC, and finish second in the group.
Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini rested Juan Román Riquelme, who was instrumental in the Spanish side’s 2-1 win away to Getafe CF on Saturday, when he set up both goals. José Mari Romero started up front, with Guayre and Hector Font in support.
Egaleo had picked up their first point in Group E in their last game against S.S. Lazio, but were without long-term injury victims Christos Moustogiannis and Günter Friesenbichler while Emmanouel Liapakis was unable to play after failing to recover from a knee injury.
The away side started brightly, but Villarreal, who went into the game in third place in the group, went ahead after 13 minutes. Hector Font picked up the ball just outside the area and tried to nutmeg Ioannis Skopelitis. His initial attempt failed but the midfield player then made the most of two lucky rebounds to fire in from the penalty spot.
The home side made it 2-0 six minutes before the break thanks to a goal by Guayre. Javi Venta played him in on the edge of the penalty area, but he still had a lot to do as he cut in between Konstantinos Papoutsis and Skopelitis before sending Christou the wrong way with a drop of the shoulder and placing the ball in the far right corner, leaving Mahamadou Sidibe no chance.
Egaleo tried to change things around at half-time with the introduction of Anastasios Agritis, a 23-year-old forward who scored in the 2-2 draw against Lazio, but his tireless running up front was not enough to prevent the home side from going 3-0 up, Hector Font feeding Javi Venta down the left and the defender finishing off with a rasping left-foot drive.
Trio taken off
Villarreal coach Pellegrini then decided to withdraw some of his key players towards the end, with José Mari Romero and Quique Álvarez among those who left the pitch. But there was still enough talent on show for the home side to make it 4-0.
And the fourth goal was arguably the best of them all. Javi Venta set up Guayre with a cheeky back-heel, and the midfield player moved in from his wide position to unleash a low shot which came off the unlucky Psomas and fell kindly to Cazorla, who scored from close range.
Villarreal, who reached the semi-finals of the competition last season and had already qualified for the last 32 ahead of tonight’s game, will now go into Friday’s draw knowing they will face one of the eight teams who finished third in their UEFA Champions League groups. But on the evidence of tonight’s game, they will fear no one.