A remarkable night yielded five goals, three penalties, two red cards and eight bookings as Villarreal CF's 4-1 win against S.S. Lazio lifted them above the Italian side courtesy of their head-to-head record in Group G.
Two strikes from Robert Pirès, one each from Cani and substitute Giuseppe Rosssi plus a consolation from Mauro Zárate accounted for the scoring, but this was one of Europe's most scintillating and open matches this season, with sufficient clear-cut chances for the teams' combined totals to have reached double figures.
The tone was set immediately as Tommaso Rocchi found himself one-on-one against Diego López, who did marvellously to save. A minute later it was 1-0 following Pasquale Foggia's foul on Joan Capdevila; Pirès launched the free-kick and although Nilmar attempted to guide the ball in, and distracted Albano Bizzarri, the goal was the Frenchman's. Even given home celebrations, there were still just three minutes on the clock when the next twist arrived, Roberto Baronio seeing red for his reaction to a Joseba Llorente challenge.
The Yellow Submarine's next owed everything to quality and nothing to their numerical superiority. Bruno Soriano served the ball to Pirès and when he found Cani the latter's shot was firm and low past Bizzarri. The lead was three when Modibo Diakhite tugged Nilmar in the box and Pirès cracked in the penalty. Nilmar then spurned three presentable chances before the break but instead of ruing them at half-time after Gonzalo was dismissed for cutting down Rocchi, he was spared as Foggia's penalty was saved by López.
A thigh injury for the goalkeeper prompted his second-half replacement by Javier Oliva, who made several saves before conceding substitute Zárate's fine consolation in the 72nd minute. The margin was nonetheless restored by Rossi's late penalty, ensuring a tight finish to the section headed by FC Salzburg on 12 points. Lazio visit the leaders on 2 December, while Villarreal travel to face PFC Levski Sofia.