Both clubs have recently made managerial appointments in Calleja and Ayestaran respectively, though they have had contrasting starts at the helm.
With Villarreal’s home record of only one goal conceded in the league in the last three matches and Las Palmas losing the last four matches in a row, a solid home win was expected and so it proved to be.
Villarreal’s only change from their last league outing was Bacca coming in to replace Sansone.
Las Palmas have made five changes following their heavy defeat to Celta last time out. Out went Garcia, Herrera, Hernan, Aquilani and Momo. They were replaced by Ximo, Lemos, Castellano, Vicente Gomez and Vitolo.
The first half was a pretty even affair with plenty of chances from both sides and plenty of misplaced passes. Oussama Tannane was substituted inside three minutes after stretching to keep a wayward pass down field from his goalkeeper Chichizola.
He was quickly replaced by Loic Remy. Villarreal started the stronger of the two teams but none of their efforts truly threatened the Las Palmas goal. Las Palmas had to wait until the 13th minute before registering their first meaningful shot at goal.
Jonathan Calleri found himself in space in the inside right channel. His shot took a slight deflection and flew narrowly wide of Barbosa’s left hand post but no corner was given. At this point, Las Palmas started to get back into the game and it was them who had the first major chance of the game in the 31st minute.
Michel ran with the ball down the right flank; his cross causing confusion in the Villarreal box with Barbosa with a weak punch clear which fell to Remy who attempted an overhead kick but was blocked.
From the resulting attack, Villarreal countered. Chichizola had to rush out of his box to deny Fornals and ended up clashing with his own defender and stayed down for a minute or so afterwards. Viera started to make more of an impression on the game as the first half wore on.
He made a lovely through ball which resulted in a clash between Barbosa and Alvaro. Again, Remy picks up the loose ball and fires wide. He also had a freekick which Barbosa did well to get down to and parry away.
Villarreal’s best chance fell to in form Bakambu in the 41st minute but he balloons it over from a Castillejo through ball. This was quickly followed by a chance from Bacca in the 45th minute who received ball from a Bakambu flick on, was tugged back slightly but managed to remain on his feet and force a save from Chichizola.
The second half was largely dominated by Villarreal and indeed started with a bang. Bakambu picked up the ball from another Castillejo pass and smashing past the goalkeeper at his near post. That is now seven goals in four starts for the DR Congo striker.
This was followed by a further two goals in quick succession in the 65th and 67th minute. Mario took a throw-in on the right hand side to Fornals who held up the ball before laying back to the right back. He cut inside and drilled a left footed shot to Chichizola’s left hand side which sneaked inside the post. This was Mario’s first goal in two years. The last one came whilst playing for Spain against England.
Villarreal’s third goal was again from the right hand side. Mario drilled in a low cross which Ximo Navarro can only hammer past his own goalkeeper. From this point on, you can see Las Palmas’ confidence was low and no longer threatened. Villarreal were in complete control and thought they had added a forth in the 75th minute when Bacca headed in off the post from a Sansone cross but was clearly offside.
However, they did score one more at the very death of the game. Cheryshev was threaded through, lifted his head up and passed across to an unmarked Nicola Sansone to tap from one yard to get his first goal since April and Villarreal’s forth of the match.
Villarreal are slowly building momentum again and are pushing up the table with Eibar the last away team to win at the Stadio de la Ceramica back in April. This victory sees them move into fifth place whilst Las Palmas remain in eighteenth and bereft of confidence.
Villarreal – Barbosa; Mario, Alvaro (Bonera 56), Victor Ruiz, Costa; Rodri, Castillejo (Cheryshev 81), Trigueros, Fornals; Bakambu (Sansone 71), Bacca
Las Palmas – Chichizola; Michel, Ximo Navarro, Bigas (Aquilani 70), Lemos (Aythami 87), D. Castellano; Vicente Gomez, Viera; Oussama (Remy 3), Vitolo, Calleri
Goals – Bakambu (48), Mario (65) Ximo Navarro o.g. (67) Sansone (93)