First Division - Day 22

Oviedo 1 - Villarreal 3

Oviedo: Esteban; Keita, Danjou, Gaspar, Rabarivony (Ivo 70'); Amieva (Collymore 60'), Onopko, Tomic, Iván Ania (Rubén Reyes 78'); Paunovic; Oli. 4-4-1-1.
Villarreal: López Vallejo; Galván, Quique Alvarez, Unai, Tasevski; Jorge López, Javier Gracia, Cagna, Calleja (Jaime 63'); Víctor (Craioveanu 89'), Palermo (Moisés 90'). 4-4-2.

Team changes: Oviedo: Keita, Rabarivony for Suárez, Ivo / Villarreal: Tasevski, Javier Gracia for Arruabarrena, Amor.

1-0. 45. Tomic (penalty). After Gracia ruled to have handled in the area.
1-1. 61. Palermo. From close up after ball headed up over defence after corner.
1-2. 64. Unai. Free kick which took deflection off Onopko's leg in wall.
1-3. 71. Jorge López. Controlled ball and scored after Palermo headed on cross.

Villarreal had to wait until they were down to ten men shortly before half time before they finally got a grip on this match. It had been a fairly uneventful first half until the last minute before the break, when a corner came over from the right. The ball fell to Javier Gracia, who appeared to control the ball with his chest to play it back to his keeper. However referee Andradas Asurmendi ruled that he had played it with his arm and awarded a penalty, showing the midfielder a second yellow card and sending him off. When the protests died down up stepped Oviedo's Tomic to beat López Vallejo from the penalty spot to take the lead. However that seemed to inspire the visitors, and with Palermo battling for every ball they came back to score three times and take their sixth victory away from home this season.

Conversation during the week was as to whether Palermo had a valid Italian passport or not, his name coming up in the recent scandal in Italy. However he put all that behind him to open his account in Spain with a volley from close range to level the scores on the hour mark. Three minutes later they were in front as Unai blasted another free kick through the wall, the ball deflecting off Onopko's leg past Esteban, and with Radomir Antic throwing players forward, Jorge López added a third a few minutes later. The game had been billed as the contest between the two new signings, Palermo and Collymore, but Antic reserved the Englishman's home debut until a few minutes in to the second half, fans applauding him excitedly on to the pitch. Not that it had anything to do with Stan the Man, but within twelve minutes of his coming on his team had let in three goals, and his only contribution to the game were a couple of fouls and two passes that went astray.

Plenty of time though for the big striker to find his feet, although the defeat leaves his side fifth from bottom in a group of three teams on 27 points, still seven points above the bottom four but with a recent run of bad results that has alarm bells starting to ring. Villarreal are going from strength to strength, and they consolidate their position in fifth place, closing up on the top four every week. The cheque book signings are paying off, and with Schelotto on the bench for this match still to make his debut, Víctor Muñoz's side are looking good. Let's hope Palermo's grandfather really is from Calabria though. It would be a shame to lose him now that we are getting used to him. It's never a dull moment.