VILLARREAL, Spain (AP) — Villarreal put aside speculation about its coach’s imminent departure to beat Young Boys 2-0 on Tuesday and move level on points with leader Manchester United at the top of their Champions League group.
Étienne Capoue scored in the first half and Arnaut Danjuma sealed the victory near the end to give the Spanish club its second consecutive win over Young Boys, following a 4-1 victory in Switzerland.
The result left Europa League champion Villarreal with seven points, the same as Group F leader Man United, which drew 2-2 at Atalanta. Villarreal next hosts United, while Young Boys hosts Atalanta.
The home victory came amid reports that Villarreal coach Unai Emery is on the verge of leaving to join English Premier League club Newcastle.
“I’ve been told there was some interest, but I don’t know anything else. There is no offer,” Emery said. “If there was something it would come via the club. I’m focused. I wouldn’t decide anything without discussing it with the club.
“I was the first one to be bothered by these rumors,” he said. “But I think we were able to put them aside.”
Villarreal midfielder Dani Parejo said the players weren’t affected by the speculation about their coach’s future.
“We all prepared for this match as if it was a final,” Parejo said. “We didn’t talk about any rumors. We are all professionals and gave everything we had in this match. If there is something to say about his future, he is the one who has to say it. We are happy to have him with us. He is a great coach.”
Villarreal has struggled in the Spanish league recently, winless in its last four matches with three losses and a draw. It sits 13th in the league standings with 12 points from 11 matches.
Emery’s team had faltered defensively recently, conceding 10 goals in its last five matches in all competitions.
“These two consecutive wins are very important for us,” Parejo said. “We are playing at home and in front of our fans and winning today meant we are near the top of the group. There are two very difficult games left but we trust ourselves.”
Villarreal opened the scoring with Capoue finding the net from close range after a corner kick in the 36th. His header was initially saved by goalkeeper Guillaume Faivre but he didn’t miss on the rebound. Danjuma’s goal from inside the area came after Capoue took the ball away from an opponent.