|First Division - Day 36|
Villarreal 1 - Albacete 0
Javi Venta, Quique Alvarez, Gonzalo Rodríguez, Arruabarrena; Cazorla
(Héctor Font 65'), Marcos Senna, Peña (José Marí
65'), Riquelme; Figueroa (César Arzo 70'), Diego Forlán. 4-4-2.
Team changes: Villarreal: Cazorla, Peña for Josico, Sorín / Albacete: Oscar Montiel, Jaime, Momo, Pacheco for Santi, Redondo, Mark González, Peña.
Villarreal took a big step towards a place in the Champions League with a 1-0 victory over Albacete, who are relegated to the second division as a result. The Manchegans put up a good fight though, and Pellegrini's side only took the three points thanks to a controversial Riquelme penalty midway through the second half after José Marí fell in the box under a challenge from young defender Agus.
The home side pushed forward from the starting whistle, with Diego Forlán shooting just wide early on. His strike partner Figueroa came up against Gaspecic soon afterwards, the first of many excellent saves by the Belgian keeper, and Forlán could have put his side in front when he got wide of the keeper only for his shot to come back off the post.
Local keeper Reina was a mere bystander throughout the first half, but Gaspercic was in action soon after the restart to keep out Forlán once again. Pellegrini eventually decided it was time for a change, and brought on Héctor Font and José Marí. And within three minutes the veteran striker had won himself a penalty, although referee Rodríguez Santiago was immediately surrounded by the visiting players who thought that his fall was contrived.
Riquelme stepped up to drive home the spot kick though once the protests had died down, and the Argentine midfielder could have wrapped things up later on had Gaspercic not stuck out a providential fist. The keeper's fellow forwards were not up to his standard though, and only a long shot from Pacheco gave Reina anything to do. They were down, and Villarreal are sure of at least a place in the UEFA cup, with the Champions League a strong possibility. Goodbye at last to the Intertoto Cup!