Villarreal clinched Saturday’s Emirates Cup opener against Wolfsburg as Mario Gaspar and Matias Nahuel struck inside the opening 18 minutes to seal a 2-1 win.
All three goals came in an action-packed first half at the Emirates Stadium as the Spanish side claimed victory ahead of hosts Arsenal’s clash with Lyon.
Villarreal made an ideal start when highly rated defender Gaspar found the top corner with a precise finish inside the opening 10 minutes.
Their lead was shortlived however, as reported Inter target Ivan Perisic levelled for Dieter Hecking’s men, who fell behind again when they failed to clear at the back, allowing Nahuel to slip home the winner.
During a low-key second half, former Arsenal man Nicklas Bendtner’s return to the Emirates was the main highlight for the home crowd, although the Dane struggled to make an impact.
The DFB-Pokal holders now gear up for Sunday’s clash with Arsenal, while Villarreal await Lyon.
Villarreal started the brighter and were rewarded after just eight minutes when full-back Gaspar angled a delightful finish into the top left-hand corner following a break down the right.
However, the lead lasted just two minutes as Perisic maintained his pre-season hot streak – finishing from close range after a slick ball across the box from Daniel Caligiuri.
Perisic scored twice in Tuesday’s 4-2 victory over Zurich but saw his side quickly fall behind again as the goals continued to flow.
Following sloppy defending from last season’s Bundesliga runners-up, Nahuel latched onto a loose ball and calmly buried his third senior goal for the club.
While the game remained open, there were no further sights on goal before the break besides Atletico Madrid loanee Leo Baptistao’s wayward effort from the edge of the area.
Wolfsburg introduced Andre Schurrle at the break quickly followed by Bendtner, while the in-demand Kevin De Bruyne was withdrawn shortly before the hour mark.
In stark contrast to the first half, chances were few and far between, with Hecking likely to target improvements ahead of their Super Cup clash against Bayern Munich in a week’s time.