Uche sinks Elche
Last Updated: 05/11/13 12:33am
Ikechukwu Uche celebrates
Ikechukwu Uche struck a late winner as Villarreal bounced back from Thursday's defeat to Getafe with a 1-0 victory over Elche.
Marcelino Garcia Toral's high-flying visitors have enjoyed mixed form of late, but Monday night's win moved them three-points clear of fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao in the table.
Meanwhile, Elche remain 10 points behind in 13th after recording their fifth defeat of the season.
Both sides took a few minutes to get going at the Manuel Martinez Valero stadium and it was the away side that came close with the first chance but Hernan Perez fired his shot from inside the box just past the post.
Uche was next to have a go at the Elche goal a few minutes later, but his drilled effort also sailed past the target as Villarreal pushed on.
The home side had to wait until midway through the first half for their first shot on target where they were unfortunate not to take the lead.
Against the run of play, Carles Gil de Pareja Vicent crossed the ball in perfectly for Manu Del Moral but his close-range header from the centre of the Villarreal goal hit the crossbar to deny an opener.
Los Franjiverdes began to fight their way back into the match and two Damian Suarez's corners in quick succession first forced Uche to block the ball, before goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo was called into action as he comfortably caught the second effort.
As half-time approached the visitors continued to press for a goal and Ruben Cani booted the ball over the Elche goal from 30 yards out in an attempt to clinch an opener, while defender Domingo Cisma was well placed to hold out Mario Gaspar's shot just outside the penalty box from the right.
The Yellow Submarine lost Giovani dos Santos to injury at the start of the second half, he was replaced by Jonathan Pereira just two minutes in and they began to take charge soon after.
Mario Gaspar came close to breaking the deadlock with a powerful shot in the box from the right but Elche goalkeeper Manu Herrera made a brilliant save with his feet to keep them at bay.
Both sides could have taken the lead just after the hour mark but failed to convert their chances at both ends of the field.
Elche midfielder Sergio Pelegrin replaced the injured David Lomban soon after before Villarreal came close again.
Uche was fouled by Fidel Chaves and from Manu Trigueros resulting free-kick, Bruno Soriano collected the ball and sent in a close-range header from the centre of goal forcing Herrera to make a fantastic save as he pushed the ball to safety.
The away side continued to search for a goal and it came in the final minute of the game.
Pereira provided the cross from the centre of the penalty area and Nigeria striker Uche made no mistake from the right of the six-yard box as he fired home his third goal of the season.
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