First Division - Day 16

Villarreal 4 - Atlético Madrid 3

Villarreal: Reina; Belletti, Ballesteros, Unai, Arruabarrena; Guayre (Josico 71'), Quique Medina, Farinós (Calleja 81'), Jorge López; Víctor (Gracia 86'), Palermo. 4-4-2.
Atlético: Esteban; Otero (Javi Moreno 49'), Santi, García Calvo, Carreras (Hibic 58'); Albertini, Emerson; Contra, Fernando Torres, Luis García (Stankovic 63'); José Mari. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Villarreal: Arruabarrena, Guayre, Quique Medina, Farinós for Berruet, Galván, Josico, Xavi Gracia, / Atlético: Santi, García Calvo, Albertini, Emerson, José Mari for Coloccini, Hibic, Movilla, Nagore, Stankovic.

1-0. 26. Unai. Hit free kick through defensive wall into corner of net.
2-0. 28. Palermo. Soft header down from corner which bounced past keeper.
2-1. 31. Fernando Torres. Volleyed in chipped cross from Contra on far post.
2-2. 42. Santi. Turned ball in from close range as long shot came in after corner.
3-2. 44. Víctor. Ran on to through pass from Guayre to steer ball past Esteban.
4-2. 89. Palermo. Beat keeper on far post after Jorge López crossed from right.
4-3. 91. Fernando Torres. Got above Reina to head in Stankovic corner.

Villarreal and Atlético Madrid recording the second seven-goal thriller of a weekend which saw no less than 39 goals in the first division. The first half in the Madrigal stadium was one of the most action packed of the season, with José María hitting the post for the visitors and Víctor and Palermo going close a couple of times for the home side in the opening minutes. It was only a matter of time before a goal, and it came following a foul on Villarreal's flamboyant new signing from Inter Milan, Farinós. Unai stepped up and crashed his shot through the defensive wall, the ball taking a slight deflection off Emerson to fool Reina. Two minutes later Benito Floro's side scored again, Palermo not connecting too cleanly with a corner from the right, but doing enough to bounce the ball past the unsighted Esteban.

Luis Aragonés had made five changes for this match after a string of bad results, changing his two central defenders and his two midfield anchormen, but it looked as if it was more of the same. However shortly before half time they were level, Fernando Torres pulling one back with a far post volley from Contra's cross, and then Santi cheekily popping the ball past Reina after Luis García fired the ball in after a corner. Referee Muñiz Fernández correctly waved away the home side's appeals for offside.

In between the goals Luis García had rattled the upright with a long shot, and Atleti seemed to be on a roll. But they let their concentration slip before the break, and shortly after Palermo headed against the bar, Guayre slipped the ball through for Víctor to put the locals back in front. Aragonés changed things around shortly after the restart, brining on Javi Moreno and pulling back Contra into defence, and the game settled to a more normal rhythm. But there was a sting in the tail, with Palermo getting his second of the night and his fifth in six games after Gracia and Jorge López combined to set him up, and Fernando Torres also getting another goal in injury time, heading home a corner from substitute Stankovic.

An exciting match and what football is all about, although don't say that to Atlético president Jesús Gil. He had only just had a pacemaker fitted for his heart, but he laid in to his players after the game, saying some of them were not fit to play for the club. They are still in ninth place, but only three points separate them from eighteenth placed Rayo Vallecano in another close fought league. Aragonés has been there before, but right now he is tiptoeing through the offices of the Calderón stadium, trying not to upset anyone.