Spanish La Liga: Villarreal 1 Eibar 0
Last Updated: 22/02/15 8:55pm
Luciano Vietto came off the bench to secure an under-par Villarreal side a 1-0 victory over Eibar.
Thanks to a blunder by Eibar goalkeeper Xabier Irureta, the Argentinian struck the winner in the 72nd minute, just moments after coach Marcelino had introduced him.
Vietto's 11th league goal of the Primera Division season allowed Villarreal to capitalise on Sevilla's defeat at Real Sociedad and move to within one point of the Andalusians in fifth place.
With his side having been involved in Europa League action on Thursday, Marcelino again opted to rotate his squad, leaving out first-team regulars Vietto, Denis Cheryshev and Mateo Musacchio, but handing a debut to new signing Eric Bailly.
The first half saw few goalscoring opportunities, the best of which fell to Gerard Moreno, who first shot straight at Irureta and then fired over the bar after good work by Arsenal loanee Joel Campbell.
The hosts should have taken the lead at the start of the second half when a softly-struck pass by Borja Ekiza allowed Moreno to play in Giovani dos Santos in the area, but the Mexican's shot was deflected just wide of the far post by Eibar captain Txema Anibarro.
With the clock ticking away and Villarreal in danger of going a second game without a win after last week's defeat at Rayo Vallecano, Marcelino introduced Vietto and Cheryshev in a double change.
The Argentinian forward drove forward on the right wing and interchanged with Moi Gomez and Giovani before striking the ball first-time at Irureta, who allowed it to slip through his hands.
It was the second crucial error in as many games for the usually reliable stopper, who was also at fault for the only goal in the defeat to Elche the previous week.
Irureta did manage to make a fine save from Gomez a few minutes later after a smart move involving Vietto and Jaume Costa, clawing the youngster's shot away from the top corner.
Eibar could not offer much of a response and slip to a fifth straight league defeat, but remain eight points clear of the relegation zone thanks to their stellar results in the first half of the season.