BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Ten months after he was fired by Arsenal, Unai Emery was back to winning ways on Saturday with his first victory as Villarreal coach in the Spanish league.
Gerard Moreno scored once and set up Paco Alcácer for another goal in Villarreal’s 2-1 comeback win against Eibar.
Emery is back in Spain after frustrating stints at Paris Saint-Germain and, most recently, Arsenal, where he lasted 18 months before being fired last November after the club’s worst winless run in 27 years.
The Spanish manager’s best spells have come at home. He spent four successful seasons at Valencia and guided Sevilla to three Europa League titles.
Emery had Spain striker Moreno to thank for Saturday’s comeback.
Moreno canceled out Kike García’s first-half opener when he cut back in the 63rd minute to shake off his marker and score from a tight angle.
Moreno passed for Alcácer to round the goalkeeper and slot home for the winner in the 70th in Villarreal’s stadium, which was empty of fans like all Spanish stadiums due to the coronavirus pandemic. The goal was awarded after a video review overturned an initial offside ruling.
Moreno also scored in last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Huesca, the official debut of Emery at the “Yellow Submarine.”
“This is a sign that we are doing things well,” Emery said. “(Moreno) arrived here when he was 16 and he is a player who bleeds the colors of Villarreal. Last season he scored 18 goals in the league and he is having a great start to this campaign.”
Villarreal reinforced its squad in the short offseason, bringing in former Valencia midfielders Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin and taking young forward Takefusa Kubo on loan from Real Madrid.
The aim for Villarreal is to crack the top four to earn a Champions League spot after finishing fifth last season and going to the Europa League.
Jaime Mata’s goal early in the second half was enough to give Getafe a 1-0 win over Osasuna.
Getafe is looking to recover the form that had made it one of the toughest mid-level sides in the league last season, until it struggled after the competition resumed following a three-month stoppage for the pandemic. The Madrid-based club only won one in 11 games after the league restarted in June and slid out of contention for European competition.
Getafe’s Round 1 match versus Real Madrid was postponed to give the league champion more time to rest after reaching the Champions League round of 16 last month.
Iago Aspas scored twice to give Celta Vigo a 2-1 win over a Valencia team that has been drained of talent in the offseason.
Aspas opened the scoring from a perfectly threaded through-ball from Manuel “Nolito” Agudo in the 13th. Former Celta striker Maxi Gómez equalized for Valencia, but Aspas restored the lead with a goal from a free kick in the 57th.
Valencia, now under former Watford coach Javi Gracia, lost striker Rodrigo Moreno and young forward Ferran Torres in addition to Parejo and Coquelin in the summer market.
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