Villarreal make winning start in Emirates Cup

Villarreal make winning start in Emirates Cup

Spanish side Villarreal kicked off the Emirates Cup with a 2-1 win over Bundesliga runners-up Wolfsburg on Saturday.

Marcelino Garcia Toral`s team made a flying start in the opening match of the four-team pre-season tournament thanks to first-half goals from Mario Gaspar and Matias Nahuel Leiva at Arsenal`s Emirates Stadium.

Villarreal, who finished sixth in La Liga last season, opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Spanish right-back Gaspar seized on Samuel Castillejo`s deflected pass into the penalty area and slammed his left-footed strike past Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels into the top corner.

Dieter Hecking`s Wolfsburg were level within two minutes, with Croatia winger Ivan Perisic slotting home at the far post after Daniel Caligiuri`s low cross exposed the back-pedaling Villarreal defence.

It was the kind of incisive run and finish that showed why Inter Milan are keen to sign the 26-year-old.

But Villarreal were back in front in the 17th minute after referee Bobby Madley waved play on following a bone-jarring midfield collision and teenage midfielder Nahuel Leiva took advantage, sprinting clear to stroke a cool finish past Casteels.

With Wolfsburg playmaker Kevin De Bruyne showing little of the quality that has made him a Manchester City transfer target, the Belgium international, who had been booked in the first half, was taken off with 30 minutes left.

De Bruyne`s departure was one of a raft of second half substitutions that included a return to the Emirates for Wolfsburg`s former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner, but the Dane couldn`t inspire a late equaliser.

Later on Saturday, hosts Arsenal face French side Lyon.

On Sunday, Villarreal play Lyon and Arsenal take on Wolfsburg.