Villarreal welcomed Italian high-fliers Atalanta to La Ceramica this evening to get their 2021/22 Champions League campaign up and running, and had to settle for a point after a thrilling 2-2 draw. Atalanta took the lead only to lose it to Villarreal and then rescue what will be a valuable away point in a competitive group.
The Yellow Submarine qualified for this season’s Champions League thanks to their victory in last season’s Europa League. Manchester United, the club they beat to win it, are in their group, as are Swiss outfit Young Boys. Atalanta and United are tricky customers, so three points this evening would have gone a long way to setting Villarreal up for a good run.
Things didn’t get off to a good start. Atalanta got their noses in front six minutes in through Remo Freuler. He finished decisively after slack defending from Villarreal. Emery’s men struck back six minutes before half-time; Manuel Trigueros was on hand to score.
Midway through the second half, in the 73rd minute to be precise, Villarreal took a late lead when key man Gerard Moreno assisted Arnaut Danjuma. Robin Gosens then equalised for Atalanta exactly ten minutes later, with Villarreal midfielder Francis Coquelin getting himself sent off immediately afterwards.