In a highly entertaining match Aberdeen this evening went down 1-0 to Spanish giants Villarreal in Darren Mackie's Testimonial. In an even first half both teams had chances and both keepers made some good saves. Ryan Jack almost sneaked one in at the near post but Lopez got down quickly and the keeper did well to stop an own goal when Masacchio also scored past him after fine play by Mackie. At the other end David Gonzalez blocked well from Cazorla.
In the second half the only goal was scored by Giuseppe Rossi, who was not even named on the official team sheet by the Spanish club. However the highly rated striker sneaked on as a half time substitute and scored from 12 yards on 53 minutes with a typically composed finish. Mackie almost capped a great night when a chance went inches past on 74 minutes. The crowd of 10,000 gave Darren a standing ovation when he was substituted late on.
The Dons lined up again with a 3-4-3 formation again. Foster played on the right side with Considine on the left and Mawene in the middle. The midfield four were Jack, Osbourne, Milson and Roberson with the front three Mackie, Vernon and Pawlett. Chris Clark and Fraser Fyvie were not risked as they had slight injury concerns. Villarreal finished fourth in La Liga last season. They have a vital Champions League qualifier coming up a at the start of August so this was far more than an exhibition match. And they showed their intent in the first minute when Santi Cazorla had a free kick which just went past Gonzalez's right hand post. On four minutes Richard Foster, who handed over the captain's armband to Darren for the night, made a superb run deep into the opposition half. He fed Ryan Jack whose shot come cross almost sneaked into the keepers near post.
Ruben then missed a good chance when he blasted over from close range. On 15 minutes Darren Mackie was caught off side for the second time. The linesman was roundly booed! Quite right to. Ruben then had another good chance when he for a second got in behind the Dons defence but Mawene did well to get back and put a block in. After the frenetic opening the game calmed down a bit on the 20 minute mark. Keeper Diego Lopez was looking concerned about the seagulls. He was also maybe regretting wearing an orange top. Minutes later however he made a great save. Considine played in Mackie. This time he had timed his run perfectly. He elected not to shoot and try and picked out Vernon. Defender Musacchio tried to intercept but he got a strong touch on it and it looked like he would score an own goal. He had to thank his keeper Lopez who produced a wonderful point blank save. Vernon then had a chance at the back post but Musacchio and Lopez combined to block.
On 26 minutes the Dons had another chance when Milsom played in a dangerous free kick but the keeper punched clear with Mackie and Mawene closing in. Then on the half hour mark a cheeky little back heeler from Peter Pawlett let in Clark Robertson but he was unable to get his cross in. This led to another corner but it came to nothing. Then on 33 minutes a good move down the other side set Ryan Jack free. He elected to shoot when Mackie and Vernon were both screaming for it in the box. After almost scoring with a similar chance earlier in the game who could blame the youngster for having a go.
Pawlett then went on a mazy run which created a half chance. But before you could blink the ball was worked to the other end and Cazorla was one on one with Gonzalez. The big keeper though, who had a very impressive game, came out quickly and manage to block the shot. It was the first time the visitors had shown some real quality. The Dons also though were showing some quality and there were a lot of encouraging signs ahead of the game against St Johnstone on Saturday. On 39 minutes Milson, Clark, and Pawlett all linked together to win another corner. Vernon headed over from the set piece.
Despite this being a friendly there were a few challenges flying in. Mawene was given a talking to after taking Ruben down. He was slightly late. From the resulting free kick Senna's effort was well saved by Gonzalez diving down to his right. At half time Michael Paton replaced Ryan Jack.
The Spanish side had the first chance after the break when on 49 minutes Valero crossed for Cani but the midfielder headed over. Then Rob Milsom hit a half volley from 25 yards which was spilled by Lopez, but gathered at second attempt.
On 51 minutes Vernon pulled the ball back for Mackie but he was well tackled by Mussachio. Then two minutes later Villarreal took the lead. Giuseppe Rossi showed his class by finding space in the box and he finished with ease from about 12 yards. On 55 minutes the visitors made a double substitution. Wakaso came on for Cazorla and Bordas for Cani. On 59 minutes Valero cut in on the right but his weak shot was easily saved by Gonzalez. Two minutes later Josh Magennis replaced Scott Vernon. On 64 minutes Michael Paton played in a cross from the right. Mackie had a chance but his header was bit weak. On 68 minutes Milsom, who has looked outstanding in pre-season, made a rare mistake which handed a chance to Valero but Gonzalez made another fine block.
Then the moment that almost brought the house down. After a good move which led to Magennis finding space on the right, he crossed for Darren Mackie. The striker was all alone six yards out but Daz could not quite get enough on it and the ball went wide. To be fair it was a harder chance than it looked as he had no time to think about it, he just had to react. In the final quarter Aberdeen continued to push forward and looked the more likely side to grab the next goal. On 76 minutes a superb cross by substitute Nicky Low from the left found the head of Josh Megennis but the Northern Irishman just got underneath it.
Jack Grimmer, who has been in Portugal with the U19s, replaced Youl Mawene and then Darren Mackie got a standing ovation when he came off to be replaced after 85 minutes by Jordon Brown. In the closing stages there was an injury concern for the Dons. Clark Robertson took a knock and had to come off. With the bench empty Aberdeen played the last few minutes with ten men. Other than the possible injury to young Clark it was a very positive and enjoyable evening.