First Division - Day 2

Alavés 0 - Villarreal 1

Alavés: Herrera; Contra, Karmona, Téllez, Djolonga; Astudillo, Desio (Geli 67'), Pablo, Ibon Begoña (Magno 46'); Jordi Cruyff (Iván Alonso 46'); Javi Moreno. 4-4-1-1.
Villarreal: López Vallejo; Galván, Quique Álvarez, Berruet, Arruabarrena; Jorge López (Escoda 55'), Amor, Cagna; Víctor (Gracia 88'), Marioni, Calleja (Craioveanu 83'). 4-3-3.

Team changes: Alavés: Djolonga for Geli / Villarreal: None.

0-1. 69. Víctor. On far post after low cross from Calleja on left wing.

A new villain has emerged in the Spanish league, and he has got off to a good start. Villarreal's new signing Bruno Marioni upset the Alavés players and crowd right from the start when he failed to return the ball after the home side put it out of play to attend to an injured player. Then a few minutes later he clashed with last season's top villain, Téllez, leaving the defender lying on the ground with a gash on his cheek that required several stitches. Had Prados García been refereeing he would have ruled that Téllez head-butted Marioni's elbow (at least that's what he did last week with Arzeno and Jankauskas), but this was Megía Dávila in charge, king of the red cards, and the Argentinian striker had no chance. Off he went, and with Arzeno receiving a six match ban from the appeal committee on video evidence, we expect that the player will not see the light of day (or floodlights at least) for a couple of months or so.

All this happened in the 13th minute of the match, and it left the visitors with ten men. Ordinary mortals would have given up, but Villarreal battled on, and eventually went on to win with a second half goal by Víctor on a counter-attack. In fact although Alavés had dominated the first half totally after the sending off, they had been warned that this could happen when Herrera was forced to save from the same player in the first half. On another occasion Guillermo Amor hit a post.

This time the Jordi Cruyff / Javi Moreno strike force, so deadly last week, was snubbed out, and Alavés manager Mané decided to replace Jordi and Ibon Begoña at half time, bringing on forwards Magno and Iván Alonso in a change of tactics. That was a bit risky for Alavés who normally rely on a packed midfield to grind out their points, and they paid the price with Víctor's goal. A couple of minutes after Villarreal scored Moreno got the ball in the net, but Megía ruled it out, and Geli tried a shot near the end which López Vallejo saved. But the 1-0 specialists had been beaten at their own game, and both teams are now level in midtable with three points. The Alavés supporters, having seen their team fail to score twice in three days, whistled at their own players and left in droves before the end. People have short memories in Spain.