Villarreal 1-0 Levski Sofia: Nilmar Wins It For The Home Side

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A loan Nilmar strike in the second half was enough to give Villarreal all three points against Levski Sofia at a near empty Madrigal although the performance was far more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

Villarreal almost took an early lead when Jonathan Pereira latched onto Nilmar’s through ball inside the penalty box but a brilliant last ditch tackle from Miroslav Ivanov averted the danger, and minutes later a clever Robert Pires flick from a corner was well saved by Georgi Petkov.

While Villarreal dominated the first half, pressing Levski Sofia deep in their own half, the visitors enjoyed brief spells in the home side’s half but just when the looked to have the Yellow Submarine on the back foot, the final ball let them down.

UEFA are experimenting with five match officials in the Europa League, with one operating along either goal line but despite the extra officials, a terrible, late challenge on Sebastien Eguren by Levski’s Cedric Bardon was missed by the referee, Mike Dean.

Just before the interval Levski had chances to take the lead but Lachazar Baltanov‘s effort was well blocked and from the resulting corner Chaki Benzoukane couldn’t direct his close range, free header on target.

The second half started in much the same vein and after ten minutes Villarreal should have scored as Nilmar played Pereira in and he seemed to have the hard work done but he somehow missed from two yards with the goal at his mercy after rounding the keeper.

Shortly after the hour mark, Eguren inexplicably missed from underneath the crossbar when it looked easier to score after Pires pulled a perfect low ball across the box.

Ernesto Valverde’s frustration was showing as his side lacked a killer touch up front in the absence of Santi Cazorla and Giuseppe Rossi.

The Italian replaced Pereira on 66 minutes soon made the difference latching onto Joan Capdevila‘s ball down the left flank before pulling back an inch perfect cross to Nilmar who finished with an expert goalscorers touch at the near post to give the home side a deserved lead.

Rossi tested the ‘keeper with a decent free kick soon after the home side took the lead but 1-0 it finished.

Valverde will be happy with the three points and a clean sheet but in truth it should have been settled far earlier.

Goal

~ by footballdirecta on September 18, 2009.

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