A classy lob from the playmaker was enough for the hosts to collect the three points over their lively opposition
Although Villarreal were on the back foot for most of the game, a strike from Borja Valero was enough for the home side to earn a 1-0 victory over a spirited Real Betis on Satuday afternoon at El Madrigal.
Both sides began the fixture with the clear intention of attacking their opponents. This resulted in much back and forth action as neither side could take control of the run of play.
When Betis looked to be asserting dominance on the game, one Villarreal counter attack changed the face of the match. Backed up into a central defender, Marco Ruben was able to spin around his opponent and pick out a surging Valero, who masterfully lobbed the ball over an exposed Casto Espinosa to open scoring in the afternoon match.
The visitors nearly responded moments later when Ruben Castro skipped his way into the 18-yard box and struck a threatening effort across Diego Lopez’s goal, only to have the ball parried by the experienced keeper.
Pepe Mel’s men continued to look for the equaliser and nearly found it when Iriney Santos struck a hard shot from 30 yards out which bounced in front of Lopez and forced a difficult diving save out of the keeper, who continued to keep the one-goal advantage for his side.
The Andalusian side would not halt their attack on the host's goal and will rue their missed chances as they could have found themselves in front by more than one goal before half time had their finishing been more clinical. Jorge Molina spurned another opportunity for his side when a free kick found him in a threatening position in front of Lopez, but the striker could only fire above his opposition’s goal.
After a quiet beginning to the second half which saw little to no action in front of goal, the match became lively in the 60th minute. Finding space outside the box, Valero looked for his second of the match as he sent a powerful strike towards Casto’s goal which was tipped over the bar by the Betis 'keeper. From the resulting corner, a cross found an unmarked Bruno Soriano who looked sure to double his team’s advantage with a header, only to have Casto make another impressive and point-blank save.
Juan Carlos Garrido's men were forced to defend for the rest of the match as Betis looked to equalise, but were unable to threaten the home side's goal as the hosts were able to hold on for a narrow victory.
With the victory, Villarreal are now level on 17 points with Malaga and tied for sixth place. Betis continue to struggle in 13th and have not won in nine games.