Hosts Villarreal fought back from 0-2 down to make a comeback and play out a thrilling 2-2 draw against league leaders Barcelona at the El Madrigal on Sunday. Barcelona were troubled in the first minute when Villarreal’s Trigueros hit the post with his header, but there could not be a goal.
The visitors started the game brightly and were rewarded when Rakitic was unmarked to shoot into the net to give his side the lead. At the stroke of half-time, Neymar was awarded a dubious penalty, which was converted by him to make it 2-0 to Barca.
But the hosts struck back with two second-half goals to level the scores at 2-2. Cedric Bakambu opened the scoring for Villarreal and Jeremy Mathieu's own goal put the score at level.
Here are how the players from both sides fared:
Sergio Asenjo – 8
The Villarreal shot-stopper was the best player for his side as he stopped many shots at his goal from close and long range. He was seen saving shots from the likes of Messi and Neymar.
The goalkeeper cannot be blamed for both the goals as he did his part on both occasions. He was not at fault for the penalty decision, but the referee awarded the penalty to Barca on the pretext of Asenjo fouling Neymar. But replays suggested the former got the ball first.
Mario Gaspar – 6
He was troubled by Neymar and Jordi Alba in the first half, but he pulled up his socks in the second half and played a decent game. His tracking back and defending was questionable during the first half. But as the game progressed, the right-back settled down and got forward also for his side to create some crosses.
Victor Ruiz – 7
The defender had a great game at the center of defense for Villarreal. He was a key figure in defence and helped clear the ball whenever required. He was very cool and composed throughout the game, especially in the second half, where he helped his side keep out the danger of “MSN”.
Eric Bailly – 6
The Ivorian formed a good partnership in dentral defence with Ruiz. He was crucial in not allowing Barca any room in the second half. He made a crunching tackle on Sergi Roberto to deny him a clear opportunity at goal.
Antonio Rukavina – 6
He did well on his left flank defensively as he did not let Messi have any space to run behind him. He forced the world player of the year to come inside, and that helped Villarreal in getting the ball off of Messi’s feet. He did try to get forward, but to no avail.
Samu Castillejo – 5
He was fairly okay in his performance in the first half. He failed to produce any real chances for his forwards early on. But as the game progressed, he did well to bring his game to the pitch and carve out a few chances.
Bruno Soriano – 6
The Spanish midfielder was good when defending his lines and protected the back four well. But he failed to close down Ivan Rakitic when the Croatian managed to open the scoring.
Denis Suarez – 7
The young Spaniard was the heart of every attacking play the hosts put in. He was very good on the ball and caused trouble to the Catalans with his dribbling ability and pace. He showed why Barcelona want him in their squad. He also tracked back to defend whenever his side was in trouble. But was surprisingly taken off in the 74th minute.
Manu Trigueros – 7
Along with Denis Suarwz, he was the other important figure in midfield for the hosts. Both the players controlled the midfield in the second half. Trigueros was important in the final third as he made so many crucial passes and opportunities for his teammates. He could have scored in the first minute as he headed onto the inside of the post.
Roberto Soldado – 6
He was a great teammate to have on the day as he made up so many passes for his teammates throughout the game. His hold-up play was crucial to Villarreal’s chances of scoring in the game, he provided the hard-work that was required to get a result from this game.
Cedric Bakambu – 7
He was the best player on the pitch for the hosts as his efforts led to both the goals. His cool finish saw his side crawl back to 1-2 at the hour mark. Moments later, he found himself putting pressure on Mathieu which led to the own goal. He showed great energy and determination.
Adrian Lopez – 7
The Spanish forward was in good form as he replaced Bakambu in the 71st minute. He was lively and made some runs forward, linking up well with his teammates.
Tomas Pina – 6
The defensive midfielder replaced Denis Suarez in the 74th minute and he was not as impressive as the latter but played the right passes and defended well.
Leo Baptistao – NA
The forward played a very small part in the game as he came on late as a substitute for Soldado. He was just involved on a couple of occasions for the hosts.