Complacency cost Villarreal its unbeaten record in the Spanish league on Sunday after it conceded two late goals to lose 2-1 at Eibar.
Eibar fought back by scoring twice in the final 11 minutes to deal the visitors their first loss in La Liga this season.
Villarreal’s only defeat in 10 rounds left leader Real Madrid as the only undefeated team remaining in Spain’s top flight. The setback also scuttled Villarreal’s opportunity to rise into the top four.
Villarreal had overcome a bumpy start to this campaign when it lost striker Roberto Soldado to a long-term knee injury, unexpectedly parted ways with coach Marcelino Garcia, and lost a Champions League playoff.
But once the team settled in under new coach Fran Escriba, it won five matches and drew four in the league, including a 1-1 tie at Madrid.
“It’s a bad day, but we have to accept that this is part of competition,” Escriba said after the Eibar loss. “It bothers us, but we have to turn the page. The best thing we can do is think about winning the next match.”
Bruno Soriano gave Villarreal the 41st-minute lead when he converted a penalty following a foul on Nicola Sansone committed by Florian Lejeune in the area.
Villarreal didn’t press for a second goal, apparently confident it could protect the advantage.
But Eibar defender Ivan Ramis controlled a pass by Lejeune with his chest before firing it past goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo to make it 1-1 in the 80th.
Pedro Leon then finished off a counterattack from a pass by Sergi Enrich to complete the comeback with three minutes left. Villarreal fell into fifth place, two points behind Sevilla in fourth.
ATHLETIC BILBAO 1, OSASUNA 1
Athletic Bilbao was left to rue the faulty finishing in its 1-1 draw with Osasuna at San Mames Stadium.
Raul Garcia headed in Bilbao’s equalizer in the 28th to cancel out an opening goal by Oriol Riera. But Mikel Rico and Inaki Williams missed opportunities in the final minutes to break the stalemate.
“We leveled quickly, which was the hard part,” Rico said. “And we had some clear chances, but the ball just didn’t want to go in.”
REAL BETIS 0, ESPANYOL 1
Goalkeeper Diego Lopez made a superb reflex save to ensure Espanyol earned its second win of the season and moved away from the relegation zone.
Lopez stretched to push German Pezzella’s powerful header onto the bar deep in stoppage time as Espanyol beat Real Betis 1-0.
Central defender Diego Reyes headed in Espanyol’s goal in the 63rd.
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