Villarreal jumped to the second spot in the league standings after a 2-1 triumph over Valencia at the Estadio de la Ceramica on Saturday.
The game saw a reunion of sorts. Dani Parejo, Francis Coquelin, Gabriel, Paco Alcacer and Denis Cheryshev all came up against their ex-employers.
Meanwhile, Villarreal manager Unai Emery also faced his former side. The 48-year-old was their head coach between 2008 and 2012.
Hence, it was an eagerly-anticipated fixture and Villarreal managed to prevail with a third successive home win of the season.
Alcacer put them ahead from the penalty spot in the sixth minute, but Goncalo Guedes levelled the scores before the break.
In the 69th minute, Parejo, who left Valencia after nine years earlier this summer, made his mark with the winning strike from outside the box.
Three things we learned:
Parejo shows his quality: Parejo has been one of La Liga’s most consistent midfielders over the years and it was quite surprising when he rescinded his contract with Los Che to join Villarreal over the summer. The 31-year-old did not make any goalscoring contributions for his new side in the first five league games, but it was anticipated that he could turn up against his former employers. He did rightly so with a superb all-round performance. Parejo controlled the game from the centre of the park and he completed 102 of his 106 passes attempted. Elsewhere, he managed three shots on target and one of those was from outside the box which beat Jaume Domenech in goal in the 69th minute.
Takefusa Kubo’s mixed experience: Prior to the game, there was much talk about the lack of playing time for Real Madrid loanee Kubo. Emery decided to start the Japan international on the bench, but the teenager got his chance to impress shortly after the hour mark. Within five minutes, the 19-year-old made an impact with a superb backheel flick towards Parejo, who found the back of the net . Despite his match-winning assist, the game ended on a sour note for the youngster as he was sent off in injury time after receiving a second yellow card. Hence, he won’t be able to make his maiden league start, but should be in contention to make the first XI for the midweek Europa League clash against Sivasspor.
Villarreal continue perfect home run: The hosts continued their perfect form on their home patch with a third successive victory. That has propelled them to second on the table and they look good value to push for the top four this term. Still, there is room for improvement, particularly with the defensive organisation, given they have picked up just one clean sheets from five games and allowed eight goals. Emery’s tactics were criticised at Arsenal last season as the players tended to sit back to offer multiple scoring chances for the opposition. The Spaniard needs to avoid a similar trend from happening at Villarreal.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com