Week 18 of La Liga produced thrilling matches as both Villarreal and Granada notched a pair of wins to close out 2021.
Villareal get back-to-back victories before New Year
Unai Emery’s men jumped four places from 13th to 9th, first by taking down 10-man Real Sociedad with a 3-1 away victory on December 18, then thrashed Alavés three days later to extend their winning run to three matches.
In both wins, Gerard Moreno starred for El Submarino Amarillo, as he fired a brace in each of those. The first happened at Anoeta, his pair of headers (38’, 68’) gave them all three points after Alexander Isak’s opener at the 32nd minute.
La Real had their skipper Mikel Oyarzabal sent off four minutes after the restart for a bad tackle on Yeremi Pino before Moreno turned provider in stoppage time as he picked out substitute Samuel Chukwueze for the insurance strike in the last play of the match.
Villareal then finished 2021 strong with a 5-2 shelling of the Basque side at home in a rescheduled tiff that was supposed to be played back on matchday four.
Moreno’s brace was supplemented by Boulaye Dia’s own double with Yeremy adding another. Villareal CF had to pull away in the final fourteen minutes after Pere Pons and Joselu found the net to level the match after going 0-2 down.
The loss extended Alavés’ winless run to seven, staying stuck at the drop zone after losing away at Rayo Vallecano three days before.
Sergi Guardiola and Alejandro Catena scored in a seven-minute stretch early on the first half that saw their side rise to fourth on the table after a 2-0 whitewash.
Granada take down champs, defend home with pair of wins
The other big winner this week was Granada, which leapfrogged to 12th with a pair of wins at Los Cármenes, extending their unbeaten run to five.
Jorge Molina shone for the Andalusians, as he struck a hat trick to down Mallorca, 4-1, on December 19, two days after they were knocked out of the Copa del Rey. After his goal at the 20th minute was cancelled out by Dani Rodríguez four minutes later, the 39-year-old center forward broke the deadlock at the hour mark.
Molina and Antonio Puertas then found the net during added time to cap the tally.
Three days later, Granada came back from an early deficit to stun champions Atlético Madrid, 2-1, in their encounter that was originally scheduled for October.
João Félix’s 98-second opener was negated by a Darwin Machís rocket fifteen minutes later. Molina then put the hosts up for good a minute past the hour mark, which was confirmed after questions of offside on the build-up were quashed after a VAR check.
Getafe left it late to get out of drop zone
Alaves’ defeats meant that Getafe, coupled by a win against Osasuna on December 20, moved out of the relegation zone.
Forward Darío Poveda opened his top-flight account in the penultimate minute of added time, heading home a Damián Suárez cross from the back post for the lone strike of the match.