EVERTON’s under-21 side were sunk by a spectacular late Francisco Sol strike, as they lost their second Premier League International Cup game at Goodison Park.
The visitors, who were impressive for much of the game, went a goal up inside three minutes, as an incisive passage of play took advantage of some lax defending to allow Alfonso Pedraza to fire the Yellow Submarine ahead.
Everton pulled a goal back in the second half, thanks to a brilliant header from on-loan winger David Henen. But their efforts weren’t enough, and the young Blues were unable to record back-to-back victories, despite starting first team centre back Sylvain Distin, who was returning from injury.
On Monday evening it was Everton who struck early against Southampton, but they were forced to taste their own medicine by Villarreal, who themselves were up by one before the three minute mark.
After receiving the ball, Cristian Herrera took it forward and played it right in between the defensive pairing of Distin and Kenny to Alfonso, who turned and finished neatly past Hewelt, cuing enthusiastic celebrations from the visitors.
Everton looked for an immediate response to going behind, but a blocked Henen shot and Courtney Duffus’ effort from outside the area were the best of their opening chances.
Villarreal continued to create problems with their high tempo and accurate passing, and should have found themselves two goals to the good when Jose Manuel Garcia Naranjo had the ball in front of goal, but the Spaniard blasted the ball over the bar from ten yards out.
In a possible attempt to throw their competition off their game, the home side responded with a host of tough challenges, though managed to escape the referee’s book, with some well-timed.
But amidst the heavy-handedness of The Toffees, Villarreal kept working the ball forward and were unable to turn in Francisco Garcia’s driven cross from the left, before Cristian Herrera was unable to control his shot and fired over.
There was time for another goalscoring chance in the first half, and it fell to Villarreal again, but Naranjo couldn’t stab home Israel Puerto’s headed pass from close range.
Everton re-emerged from the tunnel the better side in the second half, and although Puerto’s header from a corner was the first shot of the period, Everton were able to level the scores.
Not surprisingly, it was Henen back among the goals, as he was able to flick a looping header over Muguel Banuz from Ryan Ledson’s floated free kick for his third strike in three games.
The goal appeared to invigorate the Merseysiders, and suddenly they looked the more promising side and went close through Courtney Duffus, whose curling effort was just a whisker wide of the goalkeeper’s left hand post.
And just when it looked as though Everton firmly had the upper hand, it was a moment of magic from Sol which broke the tie once more as he fired the ball into the top corner from outside the area giving Hewelt in the Everton goal little chance to make the save.
The hosts were unable to recover a second time, although there was time for tempers to flare after a rash challenge by a yellow defender.
The result takes Villarreal three points above Everton to second in the standings, meaning that the young Blues need to beat Sunderland in their remaining Premier League International Cup fixture in order to reach the quarter finals.
Everton U21: Hewelt (GK), Connolly (Charsley, 72’), Galloway, Ledson (Walsh, 76’), Distin, Kenny, Junior, Dowell (Green, 60’), Duffus, Henen, Jones Subs: Hunt (GK), Walsh, Langton, Charsley, Davies, Green, Dyson
Scorers: Henen (57’)
Villarreal U21: Banuz (GK), Martinez, Garcia, Ramierez, Puerto, Larrea, Herrera (Gonzales, 63’), Garcia (Jiminez, 72’), Sol, Garcia Naranjo, Pedrazza (Marlos, 46’) Subs: Cebria (GK), Jiminez, Gonzalez, Marlos, Ojog, Orts
Scorers: Pedrazza (3’), Sol (73’)
Referee: Peter White