Vil­lar­real de­feat As­tana 3-1

Observer on Saturday - - Sport -

Vil­lar­real made heavy work of it, but de­feated As­tana 3-1 in the first Europa league group match of the cam­paign.

The Yel­lows (well, our Yel­lows) took an early lead through Nicola San­sone, but As­tana equalised early in the sec­ond half. Coach Escribá brought on Cedric Bakambu and De­nis Ch­ery­shev for San­sone and For­nals, and both subs promptly scored to give Vil­lar­real the win.

So, three points gained (help­ful), we get €360k for the win (nice), but— again—it seems to be less our col­lec­tive team per­for­mance that got the job done than it did in­di­vid­ual bril­liance. Ro­dri was ex­cel­lent in mid­field by all reports and as ex­pected our mid­field was gen­er­ally fine, but the in­abil­ity to keep a clean sheet against some­one—any­one—is a prob­lem. Semedo seems to still be find­ing him­self, but re­gard­less of who we’ve had in our back four, we haven’t seen the de­fen­sive qual­ity that was present un­der Marcelino—or was present last year un­der Escribá, for that mat­ter. Let’s hope it shows up.

Great that Ch­ery re­turned af­ter 6+ months off, greater still that he got a goal and we posted the vic­tory. Easy to be crit­i­cal, but let’s re­mem­ber that.

Slavia Prague de­feated Mac­cabi Tel Aviv 1-0 in the other group match, so both home sides held serve in round 1.

SPAIN -

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