Super Eagles winger, Samuel Chukwueze was instrumental as his club, Villarreal played out a 2-2 draw with world champions, Real Madrid in a weekday La Liga fixture.
Former Arsenal man, Santi Carzola was the star of the show as he recorded a double at the Estadio de la Cerámica.
Chukwueze delightfully assisted Cazorla’s opener for the 5 feet 6 inches man’s first La Liga goals since 2012. Cazorla’s efforts implies Real are now seven points adrift of the leaders, Barcelona.
The 34-year-old found the net in Spanish top-flight action for the first time since scoring for Málaga in a 1-1 draw at Osasuna on 23 April, 2012, when he put Villarreal ahead after four minutes on Thursday night.
Chukwueze, 19 made the pass for the Spaniard which the two-time European championship winner bent wonderfully into the bottom corner to ignite a game rescheduled due to Real’s participation in last month’s Club World Cup. But the European champions struck back three minutes later with a headed goal from Karim Benzema after a sweeping attacking move. Raphaël Varane gave the visitors the lead in the 20th minute with a header from a free-kick but Cazorla had the final say in the 82nd minutes when he ghosted into the box undetected to nod home at the back post and give his side a deserved point in the new coach Luis García Plaza’s first home game in charge.
Chukwueze was in the mood against arguably the greatest clubside in the world. His side appealed for a penalty in the final minute of the first half of their encounter with Real, but they weren’t awarded a spot kick by referee Pablo Gonzalez Fuertes after a struggle in the penalty box between Sergio Ramos and Chukwueze.
After playing for Nigeria at under-17 level, Chukwueze received his first call-up to the senior team in October 2018. He made his debut for the senior team on 20 November 2018 as a starter in a 0–0 friendly draw against Uganda.
Chukwueze impressed when his side played Barcelona at the Camp Nou on 2 December and he also did very well against Real Madrid on Thursday evening.
Since the Barca match, Chukwueze’s value has multiplied and the Nigerian is one of the players in Europe’s top five leagues who has progressed the most this season, at least according to his market value.
The 2018/19 season started with the player being valued at around 2.5 million euros, though it now rests at close to 7 million, showing an increase of 180 per cent.
Chukwueze, as a result, has had the 11th highest increase in value this season as he has scored four goals in 13 games.
Villarreal tied the player down in the summer, placing release clause of 40 million euros in the Diamond Football Academy of Umuahia product’s contract.
‘Every game for Chukwueze and teammates is now a battle!’
Villarreal, who have reached the last 32 of the Europa League despite a dire domestic season, clawed their way out of the relegation zone to 17th in the standings, level on points with 18th-placed Athletic Bilbao. “This result will give us strength,” says Head Coach Luis García, who has taken two points from two games since succeeding the sacked Javi Calleja. “I imagine that every game from now on will be a battle, a war to survive, but hopefully we’ll come through it and this point gives us a big emotional boost.”
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