Girona’s ambition of playing European football next season received another major boost after they claimed victory over Villarreal at the Estadio de la Cerámica.
Christian Stuani put the visitors ahead before a late goal from Anthony Lozano added extra assurance to the result, which takes Girona to within a point of their defeated opponents.
The Yellow Submarine came into the fixture having scored only three goals in their last four games and were unable to find the net on this occasion despite frequently peppering the Girona goal.
Girona grasped the upper hand when Borja García was given space to loft a perfect pass onto the head of striker Stuani, who directed home an accurate header for his 14th goal of the La Liga campaign.
Villarreal appealed for a penalty after striker Carlos Bacca fell to the ground following a nudge from Girona defender Jonas Ramalho, but the referee was unconvinced.
In the second half, Villarreal’s Pablo Fornals forced an alert save from goalkeeper Yassine Bounou after a skilful run into the opposition box.
Bacca then came close to evening the scores, but his snapshot effort was well parried away in a crowded penalty area.
The hosts were again unsuccessful in winning a penalty, this time after Juanpe appeared to have handled the ball following Enes Ünal’s forceful charge into the Girona box.
Next to test Bounou was Roberto Soriano, whose speculative effort from distance was denied by another brilliant save.
Any hope of salvaging a result was severely dented when Girona grabbed their second goal with ten minutes remaining. Substitute forward Lozano initiated a slick counter attack and exchanged passes with Portu before firing excellently beyond Villarreal stopper Sergio Asenjo.
Javier Calleja’s team now face an away trip to play Las Palmas, while Girona welcome Deportivo in the next round of La Liga fixtures.
Villarreal: Asenjo; Mario, Bonera, Álvaro, Costa; Hernández, Castillejo (Soriano 59’), Trigueros, Fornals (Martínez 79’); Rabaseda (Ünal 45’), Bacca.
Girona: Bounou; Ramalho, Espinosa, Ramírez López; Maffeo, Pere Pons (García Serrano 63’), Granell, Planas (Mojica 25’); Portu, Borja, Stuani (Lozano 71’).