A late 1-0 win away to Elche on Monday kept Villarreal in fourth place in the Spanish league.
The game seemed to be heading for a 0-0 draw until Villarreal’s Nigerian striker Ikechuwku Uche broke the deadlock with a left-foot drive one minute from the end, taking advantage of some tired defending from the host.
“It was great to snatch the win at the end like this,” said a euphoric Uche.
“We are enjoying a great season, but we have to take this step by step without getting too excited.”
Villarreal is five points below third-placed Real Madrid but three points above Athletic Bilbao, which is fifth.
Elche, meanwhile, is in 13th place, just above the danger zone.
“It was horrible to lose like that, right at the end. It was a hard blow.
“I think a draw would have been a fairer result,” said Elche midfielder Ruben Perez.
The result: Elche 0 lost to Villarreal 1 (Uche 90).