Mario gave the Yellow Submarine the lead on 19 minutes, poking home from Bruno’s cross, but Alberto Lora drew the Asturians level six minutes before the break when he struck a low shot past Diego Lopez. However, the visitors were back in front on the stroke of half-time, Marcos Senna converting from the penalty spot after Gregory Arnolin had tripped Marco Ruben inside the box.
Hernan Perez increased the visitors’ advantage 10 minutes after the restart, picking up a pass from Borja Valero and firing home off a post, only for Alejandro Galvez to set up a grandstand finish when he turned a shot past Lopez five minutes from time.
Tempers became heated in the final stages, with Sporting boss Javier Clemente being dismissed from the dugout for protesting and Villarreal substitute goalkeeper Cesar following him after reacting angrily to objects thrown onto the pitch by home fans.
Sporting will be relegated if Rayo manage to avoid defeat at Real Mallorca on Wednesday, while Villarreal move to 41 points and still need one win to be mathematically safe.
Former Spain boss Clemente acknowledged his side had “given their all” but admitted Villarreal had been “superior”, whilst also calling for better referees.
“My team gave everything and more but we still couldn’t win,” he said at the post-match Press conference, “and I congratulate Villarreal as they were the superior team. But games like this when both teams are playing for their Primera Liga lives deserve to have an international referee with more experience.
“It is a long time since I have been sent to the stands. The only thing I said to the referee was that Sangoy had not been offside,” he added.
Villarreal Head Coach Miguel Angel Lotina thought that “today was not a tactical game because there was too much tension” and considered his team had kept their heads in “not giving away stupid fouls or penalties” that could have changed the course of the match.
Sporting Gijon 2-3 Villarreal
Scorers: Lora 39, Galvez 85 (SPO), Mario 19, Senna 44, Hernan Perez 55 (VIL) Sent Off: Clemente 86, Cesar 90+3
Sporting Gijon: Juan Pablo; Damian Suarez, Botia (Andre Castro 79), Gregory, Alex Menendez; Lora, Cruz, Oscar Trejo, De las Cuevas (Mendy 56); Sangoy, Adrian Colunga (Bilic 60).
Villarreal: Diego Lopez; Mario, Zapata, Mussachio, Jaume Costa, Marchena (Wakaso 71); Senna (Angel 61), Bruno, Hernan Perez (Gonzalo 87); Marcos Ruben, Borja Valero.
Referee: Del Cerro Grande