Primera Division: Luciano Vietto scores winner as Villarreal beat Levante 1-0
Levante goalkeeper Diego Marino suffers forgettable return to El Madrigal
Last Updated: 24/01/15 11:45pm
Villarreal kept the heat on the teams at the top of the Primera Division standings with a 1-0 win over neighbours Levante as visiting goalkeeper Diego Marino suffered a forgettable return to El Madrigal.
On a night which saw Villarreal announce they had reached an agreement to for centre-back Gabriel Paulista to join Arsenal, Luciano Vietto netted a 56th-minute winner for the Yellow Submarine following a bad mistake from Marino.
Vietto was quickest to react after Marino had spilled Manuel Trigueros' 25-yard strike as Villarreal moved level on 38 points with fifth-placed Valencia, who play fourth-placed Sevilla on Sunday.
Villarreal confirmed before the match that defender Gabriel was on the verge of completing a move to Arsenal in a transfer which, according to reports in Spain, was worth close to 20million euros and will see Gunners forward Joel Campbell join the Primera Divison club on loan.
While looking like good business, losing the 24-year-old is a blow to Villarreal's hopes of finishing in the top four, but Marcelino's men did a good job of showing they can survive without the Brazilian - who did not play on Saturday - as they kept a 10th clean sheet in their last 14 league and cup games.
However, there will be tougher opponents to come than Levante - not least Barcelona at the Nou Camp next weekend - as Saturday's visitors to El Madrigal produced little to trouble Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo.
Asenjo did have work to do to keep out Victor Casadesus' 39th-minute header, but otherwise it was his Levante counterpart Marino who was the busier of the two keepers.
The 24-year-old did well to tip Vietto's first-half effort round the post but was at fault for the match-winning goal from Vietto.
The former Villarreal youth product should have gathered Trigueros' shot, but the ball squirmed out of his grasp and Vietto pounced to smash into the gaping net.
Marino prevented Villarreal from making it 2-0 moments later, turning Ikechukwu Uche's shot behind for a corner, but with Levante unable to make much of an impression at the other end, his error turned out to be the decisive incident of the match.