Villarreal relegated in dramatic finale to La Liga

 

Villarreal, often touted as a model for smaller clubs to aspire to, were left preparing for life in the second division today after they were relegated following a dramatic finale to the La Liga season.

The team known as 'Yellow Submarine' because of their canary coloured strip, started the campaign in the Champions League after finishing fourth last year, but went in to Sunday's decider in 16th place and one point above the drop zone.

They looked to be safe from the drop as they held Europa League winners Atletico Madrid at bay with minutes left before disaster struck.

Atletico netted the only goal of the game in the 88th minute at a stunned Madrigal, and then, still only needing a draw to survive, Villarreal heard that Rayo Vallecano had scored in time added on to beat Granada 1-0 and send them down.

"I can't believe it," Villarreal vice-president Jose Manuel Llaneza told Spanish television. "I can't believe there can be so much heartache in only five minutes."

Behind him on the pitch, wealthy Ceramics tycoon and club president Fernando Roig was in tears.

"There is the president getting an ovation from the fans. I can't believe it. There is nothing left for us to do but to carry on working."

Villarreal had turned themselves into top-flight regulars over the last 12 years, and after reaching the Champions League semi-finals in 2006, where they lost out to Arsenal, became accustomed to competing on the European stage.

The club from just north of Valencia combined an attractive brand of attacking football with a productive youth and scouting system, and successfully survived the exits of players such as Diego Forlan and Juan Roman Riquelme.

This year, however, the formula fell apart.

The sale of Spain midfielder Santi Cazorla to Malaga for a lucrative 20 million euros raised eyebrows and his replacements, such as Canadian Jonathan De Guzman, failed to live up to expectations.

Leading scorer, Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi, tore knee ligaments in October and just when he was about to return suffered a relapse last month which will keep him sidelined well in to next season.

Villarreal lost all six group games to crash out of the Champions League and miss out on the Europa League, and after a humbling King's Cup exit to third-tier Mirandes, coach Juan Carlos Garrido was sacked in December.

His replacement Jose Molina only lasted until March when the experienced Miguel Angel Lotina took the helm.

Unaccustomed to the relegation scrap, and with the dour defensively-minded Lotina in charge, Villarreal opted for caution in the decider against Atletico and were undone at a corner in the dying minutes.

"We have gone down because we haven't done well," Spanish international goalkeeper Diego Lopez told reporters. "Today's game was evidence of that."

Captain Marcos Senna, who helped Spain win Euro 2008, apologised to the fans, some of whom barracked the team as they left the stadium.

"All I can say is we got it wrong, there is no need to look for culprits," Senna said. "This club does not deserve to be in the second division for everything it represents, I am sure we will rise again."

Reuters

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform