Yunus Musah and Valencia couldn’t hang onto an early lead against Villarreal, while Luca de la Torre narrowly missed being the hero for Celta Vigo in their draw against Sevilla.
Celta Vigo 1 – 1 Sevilla
Luca de la Torre made the most of his substitute appearance for Celta Vigo on Friday night, nearly providing a late winner as they were forced to eventually settle for a draw against Sevilla.
Celta were first on the board against the struggling Andalusians, with a turnover in the midfield ending with Gabriel Veiga running onto a perfect through-ball from Iago Aspas, breaking behind the defense and lifting his shot over Yassine Bounou’s grip for the 1-0 lead.
Kike Salas pulled the visitors even just before the 54-minute mark, rising at the near post to head in a corner from Joan Jordán.
Skye Blues’ head coach Carlos Carvalhal brought the American into the fray along with Carles Pérez in the 65th minute as a part of a double-switch, pulling midfielder Franco Cervi and ineffective forward Jørgen Strand Larsen.
During his 25 minutes plus added time, de la Torre had a total of 16 touches, completed ten of his 12 passes, had one shot barely miss the mark, beat the opposition on is only dribble attempt, and won one of his four duels.
The hosts were given a golden opportunity in the final minutes, after Sevilla defender José Ángel Carmona was shown a second yellow for a hack on Iago Aspas as he charged up the left flank.
The USMNT player nearly capitalized on the advantage with one minute left in regulation, cueing up a shot from the top of the 18-yard box that sailed barely wide of the right upright.
In the end, the 1-1 result stood through the final whistle, giving each team a share of the spoils for their efforts.
The result means that Celta will finish the 2022 calendar year clear of the relegation places, however with only a three-point cushion and 23 games left to play in the first months 2023, they have their work cut out for them.
They take a momentary break from their La Liga campaign when they head to Barcelona to face Espanyol in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday.
Villarreal 2 – 1 Valencia
Yunus Musah played just under an hour in midfield for Valencia, putting in a competent, albeit quiet performance as the team fell late on the road to Villarreal on New Year’s Eve.
With rumors about a high-price Musah exit during the ongoing window picking up steam, every outing for the American is being watched and scrutinized as though it is potentially his last for the team.
Apart from picking up his sixth yellow card of the season, Musah put in an solid performance. he completed 82% of his 22 passes, managed one shot, created a pair of chances, and committed two fouls.
The ageless Uruguayan striker Édinson Cavani got the scoring underway for the visitors in the 21st minute. After running onto a back-heel flick in the midfield, Samuel Dias Lino advanced the ball to the edge of the area on the left and unleashed a shot that forced Villarreal keeper Pepe Reina into a block.
The ball landed at the foot of Cavani, who took a touch to settle before hitting a powerful strike to the upper left corner for the 1-0 advantage.
In the 35th minute, Musah earned his fifth yellow of the season after losing possession in midfield and overcompensating by immediately bowling over the opposing player as he tried to regain the ball.
In the first minute of added time before the half, Samuel Chukwueze equalized on a quick-strike counter, pulling down a crossfield pass from Gerard Moreno and striking his 15-yarder from the right side for 1-1
Musah left the field three minutes before the hour, with Valencia head coach Gennaro Gattuso opting to bring in Ilaix Moriba for the remainder.
In the end, the Yellow Submarine were destined to celebrate the victory, after Juan Foyth headed in a corner from Daniel Parejo at the 88-minute mark.
Highlights of the game can be viewed here.
The disappointing loss means that Valencia finish the year in tenth place, however with 33 league games still to play. They visit lower-league La Nucia on Tuesday in the Copa del Rey, then host Cadiz three days later in league action.
Luca Koleosho was not in the squad for Espanyol as they fought back to earn a 1-1 draw in the El Derbi Barceloní against city rivals FC Barcelona in Camp Nou.
Jonathan Gomez didn’t suit up for Real Sociedad as they closed 2022 with a 2-0 home win against Osasuna.