Primera Division: Villarreal got their bid for a top-four finish back on track with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Athletic Bilbao.
Last Updated: 17/01/15 9:12pm
Villarreal got their bid for a top-four finish back on track with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Athletic Bilbao.
An expertly-taken first-half goal from Denis Cheryshev put the hosts on course for a first Primera Division win of the year and Bruno Soriano's late penalty put the result beyond doubt.
Victory helped Villarreal bounce back from successive league draws, albeit away from home, which had dampened their Champions League challenge.
Opponents Athletic offered little and could have no complaints over slumping to a fourth straight league loss which has left them looking over their shoulders.
It was visitors who had the first real chance when the ball fell to Aritz Aduriz following a corner and his shot was parried by Sergio Asenjo.
Villarreal soon began to gain a foothold in the game, though, with Luciano Vietto's shot from 20 yards punched clear by Gorka Iraizoz.
Vietto had another go just before the half-hour mark, this time seeing his shot from inside the area blocked by defender Aymeric Laporte.
The opening goal arrived in the 42nd minute and it was all down to the strength and skill of Cheryshev.
The 24-year-old on loan from Real Madrid did well, as he raced toward the left of the area, to bring a pass from Victor Ruiz Torre under control and at the same time hold off a challenge.
He burst into the area, swept round goalkeeper Iraizoz and, though forced wide, ensured there was no chance of the keeper recovering by rifling a powerful shot into the net.
Cheryshev might have struck again after the break, first heading wide five minutes after the restart and then bringing a save out of Iraizoz with a left-footed effort.
The hosts sealed the points eight minutes from time when Oscar De Marcos' handball earned them a penalty.
Soriano coolly swept the spot-kick into the bottom right corner with his left foot.