Saturday 8 March 2014 23:49, UK
First-half goals from Fran Rico and Youssef El Arabi gave a dominant Granada a morale-boosting 2-0 win over Villarreal.First-half goals from Fran Rico and Youssef El Arabi gave a dominant Granada a morale-boosting 2-0 win over Villarreal on Saturday evening. Rico scored from the penalty spot midway through the first period and then provided El Arabi with a key pass so the Moroccan could double the lead 10 minutes later. The win and resounding performance will be a huge lift to Lucas Alcaraz's side, who were humbled 4-0 by Athletic Bilbao last weekend, but results elsewhere meant they remained just four points clear of the Primera Division relegation zone. Villarreal, meanwhile, found themselves in the middle of a slump, having taken just four points from their last five games in La Liga. And if Athletic Bilbao beat Valencia on Sunday, Marcelino's side will be nine points adrift of the Basques in the race to finish fourth. The game would have taken a very different course had Villarreal striker Ikechukwu Uche taken advantage of an early chance, but the Nigerian was thwarted by Granada goalkeeper Roberto. Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo had to make saves from Riki and Brahimi, and then the former won a penalty on 22 minutes after colliding with visiting captain Bruno Soriano in the area. Rico calmly sent his spot-kick down the middle and into the net, with Asenjo diving to his left. The hosts were not content with just the one goal and quickly set about looking for another, Riki shaving the post from outside the area before Rico's pass found El Arabi on the break and the Moroccan beat a defender before shooting beyond the reach of Asenjo. Gabriel Paulista came closest to responding for the visitors, the defender heading just over the bar following a corner from Manu Trigueros. Granada kept up their assault on the Villarreal goal after the break, El Arabi squandering a header, and Recio narrowly failing to keep a shot under the bar early in the second half. Riki's quest to get on the scoresheet proved futile in spite of his numerous attempts, the best of which came on the hour mark when the former Deportivo La Coruna forward blasted into the side-netting after Brahimi had offered him a free shot at Asenjo. And the forward can take consolation in the knowledge that his current team are 12th in the table and sitting far more comfortably than Depor were at this stage of last season.