First Division - Day 17

Osasuna 1 - Villarreal 0

Osasuna: Nuno; Yanguas, Aitor Ocio, Cruchaga, Mateo, Llorens; Alex, Alfredo (palacios 73'), Lekumberri; Armentano (Oscar Arpón 60'), Iván Rosado (Sabino 89'). 5-3-2.
Villarreal: López Vallejo, Xavi Roca, Quique Alvarez, Unai, Arruabarrena; Jorge López, Amor (Javier Gracia 80'), Cagna, Calleja (Moisés 58'); Víctor, Bruno Marioni (Craioveanu 80'). 4-4-2.

Team changes: Osasuna: Llorens, Alex, Lekumberri, Armentano for Iban Pérez, Angel, Oscar Arpón, Sabino / Villarreal: No change.

1-0. 42. Armentano. Beat keeper with soft shot after pass from right.

Osasuna recorded only their second home win of the season to climb out of the relegation spots and up into seventeenth place, ahead of Numancia on goal average. Their first win had come two games ago against the Soria side, and they appear to be gradually getting their game together as they find their feet in the first division. Miguel Angel Lotina and his staff have been looking successfully for new reinforcements to strengthen the side, with Llorens joining from Atlético Madrid and making his debut in this match, Gancedo signing from River Plate this week and negotiations currently under way for Brazilian striker Basilio to join from Cruzeiro if the money is available. With their new found confidence they gave Villarreal no chance, pinning them back in their own half right from the start, and they were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the opening minutes when Roca brought down Iván Rosado in the penalty area.

A few minutes later Aitor Ocio came from the back to drive a shot against the post, and López Vallejo turned a shot from Rosado around for a corner. It looked like a matter of time before the Pamplona based side would take the lead, and after the visiting keeper again saved from Rosado, the ball fell to Alfredo who floated a pass across to Armentano for him to place the ball past the keeper with a slightly mis-hit shot. After the break Llorens was close to adding to the score with a hard shot which López Vallejo again saved. But Villarreal were not yet ready to give up, with their manager Víctor Muñoz reminding them at half time that they were defending the second best away record in the league behind Real Madrid. On came Moisés to strengthen the attack, with Lotina replying by bringing off his goalscorer and putting on an extra midfielder Arpón.

Although still young in managerial terms, Víctor is a wily old bird, having picked up his experience at Barcelona, Samporia and then the wilds of Scotland, but he has a fiery temperament to go with it. With thirty minutes to go he drew on his time in Italy to mutter a veiled 'vanfanculo' towards the referee, but he was spotted by the fourth official who unfortunately understood enough Italian to realise that he was asking the referee to do something unnatural and extremely painful. Having already given the manager a caution, Puentes Leira had no option but show him a red card, which the disciplinary committee later turned into a two match ban. Back at the game however, Moisés was inspiring his team to greater things, and Nuno had to make a brilliant point blank save from Marioni before the striker himself put two efforts just wide. Osasuna were not going to let the points out of their grasp though, and with the crowd calling for the final whistle the game ended. Villarreal drop two places down to tenth, but they are still only a point below sixth placed Rayo, and are well placed to put in a serious challenge on the European spots in their first season back in the first division. Víctor though will have to watch their progress from the stands for a while.