Villarreal inflicted Bayern Munich’s first away defeat in the Champions League for almost five years as they took a 1-0 advantage from their quarterfinal first leg at the Estadio de la Ceramica on Wednesday.
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The better team for most of the contest, particularly in the first half, Villarreal may even regret not adding to their advantage ahead of next week’s decisive second leg in Munich.
Still, Tuesday’s victory is an achievement in itself against a club that had not lost on the road in the Champions League for a record 22 games, dating back to a loss to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017.
Incredibly, the coach of PSG that day was current Villarreal boss Unai Emery. And the Spaniard deserves huge credit for helping to mastermind an upset of the German champions.
Bayern, the runway Bundesliga leaders seeking a seventh Champions League title, had a massive edge in form and European pedigree against the seventh-placed team in Spain playing in Europe’s premier competition for just the fourth time.
But Bayern struggled to cope with Villarreal’s compact shape, counter pressing and intensity on both sides of the ball.
Villarreal twice came inches away from adding to their lead, first when VAR ruled Francis Coquelin to be just offside before his cross drifted into the back of Neuer’s net and then when Gerard Moreno smashed a 25-yard shot against the bottom of the post in the second half.