On Sunday evening, substitute Nicola Sansone stole the show by scoring both goals in a 2-0 home win over Malaga.
Mashed in with these two goals from super sub Sansone was a hat trick from in-form Cedric Bakambu; each correctly judged offside. Had these three goals stood, it would have propelled Bakambu up the goal scoring charts to sit just one behind Lionel Messi with 11. The Congolese striker has to wait however and still sits in third place with eight goals form ten games in La Liga.
Having come on in the 64th minute, it didn’t take long for super sub Sansone to make his impact. After 68 minutes, Mario Gaspar’s long range striker was deflected, Carlos Bacca controlled and lobbed the ball to an onrushing Sansone who headed into the net.
Eight minutes later, super sub Sansone scored his second of the night. Pablo Fornals collected the ball in the centre circle and threaded a through ball into the path of Sansone. The Italian then raced through on the Malaga goal and finished calmly into the left hand bottom corner.
Villarreal have started life under new manager Javier Calleja very well. They have moved away from the defensive and rigid approach under Fran Escriba. The Yellow Submarine have now recorded four wins and one draw under the former youth coach in La Liga. Having come through the system where 4-4-2 is a standard, Calleja clearly understands the culture of the club. Villarreal have too many creative players within their ranks to play in a negative fashion and have underachieved in recent years.
The contrasting use of Pablo Fornals by both managers perfectly sums up their approach to the game. Fornals was played out wide under Esciba. Here the Spanish u-21 was less influential on the match. Since Calleja has taken over however, Fornals has played through the centre and his creativity is in full flow.
Now up to fifth position with 20 points, Villarreal have their eyes firmly on European football next season. Should they continue with the form they are currently showing, they could even challenge Atletico and Valencia for a Champions League spot.
Malaga on the other hand are really struggling under Michel. Last season, Michel was lauded as being a potential future Real Madrid manager due to his linkages to the club. This year has not gone so smoothly however. Even though the general play by Malaga has not been that bad, they are not picking up the necessary results.
During the summer, the club lost club captain and experienced leader in Ignacio Camacho along with Sandro Ramirez and Pablo Fornals. These three were arguably Malaga’s best players last season and were not replaced during the summer adequately.
Borja Baston was expectedto bring back the form he showed at Eibar before his detrimental move to Swansea City. That has failed to materialise thus far and Michel could really do with the Spaniard hitting top form fast. Currently rooted to the bottom of the table, Malaga have only managed six goals in 11 games. Only Alaves’ have scored less with five but are two points better off.