Samuel Chukwueze came off the bench to score for Villarreal and he must have thought he had helped his side to earn at least a draw but Barcelona scored two goals in the last six minutes of the encounter to win 3-1.
It was Chukwueze’s first goal in La Liga since the goal he, coincidentally, also scored against Barcelona last April.
Villarreal started the match in 12th place with pressure mounting on Unai Emery but despite another good display, they missed gilt-edged chances to kill off the game, especially after Chukwueze scored their equaliser.
Barcelona opened scoring through Frenkie de Jong three minutes after the interval. The assistant referee had raised his flag for offside on Memphis Depay but VAR ruled the Dutchman was onside when he made the initial contact with the ball. De Jong was on hand to tap into an empty net.
Villarreal grew into the game and Emery sent on Josue Estupinan and Chukwueze on 65 minutes and the Nigerian poked Villarreal’s equaliser 11 minutes later. The 22-year-old Nigerian then created a scoring chance for Manu Trigueros but the midfielder could not gather the ball after he got there ahead of Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The Yellow Submarine were made to pay as Estupinan’s intended back header to Geronimo Rulli fell short and Depay was able to round the goalkeeper before scoring through Estupinan’s legs.
There was still time for Barcelona to add a third as Juan Foyth upended substitute Philippe Coutinho, who dusted himself and scored past Rulli to give Barcelona a 3-1 win.
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