Midfielder Dani Parejo has again come to the rescue of Villarreal’s misfiring forwards, scoring in a 1-0 win over Celta Vigo in the last game before Unai Emery’s side faces Juventus in a Champions League showdown.
The Spanish league win followed a defeat at Osasuna that had ended a five-match unbeaten run for Villarreal.
Parejo also scored two weeks ago to help Villarreal fight back for a 1-1 home draw with Juventus in the first leg of their round-of-16 matchup. The second leg is on Wednesday in Turin.
Villarreal are one of the top-scoring teams in the Spanish league this season, but they wasted several chances against Celta before Parejo broke through.
Parejo struck the 65th-minute winner after Manuel Trigueros set him up with an exquisite pass with his back to his fellow midfielder.
“I don’t know if he saw me or not, but I saw the space and he gave me a great ball that I managed to put in,” Parejo said.
“We kept a clean sheet, scored a goal. We are happy because we leave with good feelings for what is coming next week.”
Villarreal needed goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli to make two quality saves in the second half.
They moved into sixth place in the Spanish league. Celta remained 10th.
In other action, Dani Gomez equalized with 10 minutes remaining to salvage a 1-1 home draw for last-placed Levante against Espanyol.
After going the entire first half of the season – a full 19 rounds – without a victory, Levante have shown signs of life recently after only one loss in their last four games.
Elche won 1-0 at Granada to ruin the debut of caretaker coach Ruben Torrecilla, who stepped in for the fired Robert Moreno.