Vitoria (Spain), April 18 (IANS) Deportivo Alaves took the lead in the first half and weathered a late surge by Villarreal to post a 2-1 victory here.
Rebounding from three straight losses, the hosts climbed to the 11th place in La Liga with 43 points from 32 matches, while Villarreal — on 54 points — missed an opportunity to put pressure on fourth-place Sevilla, reports Efe.
Alaves dominated for the opening 15 minutes in front of nearly 18,000 spectators at Vitoria’s Mendizorroza Stadium on Monday and threatened to take the lead in the seventh minute, but visiting goalkeeper Andres Fernandez got help from the right post in stopping Ibai Gomez’s shot and was quick to deny space for Deyverson on the rebound.
Home side keeper Fernando Pacheco was sharp when he needed to be, stopping Villareal’s Roberto Soriano in the 20th minute.
Rodrigo Ely came close to scoring for Alaves in the 32nd minute with a header off a corner by Ibai, who broke the deadlock three minutes later, delivering a hard, low shot that left Fernandez with no chance.
Villarreal reacted, winning four consecutive corners, but they failed to capitalize and found themselves trailing 2-0 at the half after conceding a goal to Ely in the 44th minute.
The travelling side seized the initiative early in the second half, though they continued to struggle in the final third against a well-organised Alaves defense.
Villarreal finally broke through in the 69th minute on a shot by Cedric Bakambu that deflected off Ely and into the net.
Pacheco denied Bakambu from point-blank range in the 84th minute to preserve the victory.