Yet again, Liga 123 produced controversy, great goals, basement battles and another change at the top of the league. Here are the headlines.
RAYO GO TOP
it was all change again as Rayo Vallecano returned to the summit of Liga 123 following a 3-2 win over Barcelona B, but they were made to work for it by a relegation-threatened side without a win in ten matches coming into this one. Raúl de Tomás scored in each half, either side of Monchu’s equaliser, to take his personal tally to 22 for the season. Ballou Tabla made things interesting as he pulled one back for the Catalans to level proceedings with 11 minutes to go, but Bebé was the hero for Los Franjirrojas as he netted seven minutes from time to send them back to the top, two points clear of Sporting. Barcelona B’s troubles continue as they languish in 20th place on the back of five consecutive defeats.
HUESCA RECORD BACK-TO-BACK WINS
At any other point in the season, this would have been a headline that carried little weight. However, it is of more significance at this juncture due to Huesca’s appalling record of late. Having relinquished their advantage at the top of the table and slipped to third during a run of eight winless matches, Rubi’s side followed up Monday’s win over Barcelona B with 4-2 victory away to Tenerife. Victor Casadesús scored for the second consecutive match and put the hosts in front after half an hour, only for Juan Hernández to level three minutes later from the penalty spot following the dismissal of Carlos Ruiz. Casadesús then added his second on the stroke of halftime, before Hernandez grabbed his own brace two minutes after the restart. Six minutes later, Huesca edged in front courtesy of Moi Gómez and David Ferrerio rounded off the scoring ten minutes before the end to secure the points. Huesca are well and truly back in business and are locked on 65 points with second-placed Sporting.
SPORTING HELD FOR THE FIRST TIME IN NINE MATCHES
Cádiz forced Sporting into a 0-0 draw, ending the visitor’s perfect streak of eight wins in a row. It was also just the second time since the turn of the year that Rubén Baraja’s side had failed to find the net. By picking up just one point from this match, and Rayo winning their match, Sporting find themselves closing out the week in second place; albeit trailing by just two points.
For Cádiz, this was an important point for a multitude of reasons. Not only did it end a run of three losses in a row, it showed that they can stack up against a genuine title contender. Few teams have managed to stifle the potent Sporting attack, an aspect of his side’s performance which particularly pleased manager Álvaro Cervera. More than this however, this point kept them in fourth when a loss would have seen them slip to seventh by way of Numancia and Real Zaragoza’s results. The Gaditanos will certainly have been the happier of the two teams with this result.
CÓRDOBA WIN BIG IN THE ANDALUSIAN DERBY
In a region which hosts five Liga 123 teams, Andalusian derbies are a common affair. However, they are always passionate and this one was no different as Córdoba dispatched Sevilla Atlético with relative ease. Juanjo Narváez bagged a double two minutes apart, giving him three goals in his last three matches to give Los Califas a huge advantage. Sevilla Atlético’s problems were compounded when, having been booked eight minutes earlier, Cameroon midfielder Yan Eteki hauled down José Antonio Reyes and received a red card. In the second half, Córdoba were awarded a penalty after Juan Berrocal pulled down Sergi Guardiola in the box. The striker took the spot kick himself, but was denied by Juan Soriano. However, four minutes from time Guardiola added the third and final goal. The visitors remain rooted to the bottom of the table, while José Ramón Sandoval’s team are unbeaten in three matches and rise one place to 19th, with a good chance of leaving the relegation zone.
REAL VALLADOLID STAY IN TOUCH
Sergio González picked up his first win as Real Valladolid manager when he saw his charges overcome Real Oviedo at the Carlos Tartiere. After a goalless first half, the match sprang into life on the hour mark. Óscar Plano burst forward and found Jaime Mata on the edge of the box. The league top-scorer cut inside before finishing low past Alfonso Herrero at the near post for his 27th of the campaign. Just two minutes later, Pucela added their second from a corner kick. A deep delivery into the box was diverted into the net and, despite Fernando Calero receiving the congratulations of his team-mates, it was home midfielder Ramón Folch who got the last touch.
Los Azules made for an interesting last three minutes when Miguel Linares pulled a goal back, but the visitors held on to snap a two-match losing streak and pick up a valuable three points. They occupy ninth place and gain ground on Real Oviedo who sit two points ahead of them in seventh. Both sides are on the perimeter of the playoff picture. Had Real Valladolid lost, it may well have sounded the death knell for their La Liga aspirations.
REAL ZARAGOZA POST FOURTH WIN IN SIX
Real Zaragoza put the disappointment of last week’s defeat to Rayo behind them and got back to winning ways when they edged past struggling Almería in a tense affair at La Romareda on Saturday. Almería goalkeeper René denied the home attack on several occasions to keep the score blank at halftime. It was not until ten minutes after the restart when Los Maños made the breakthrough Giorgi Papunashvili. The big Georgian midfielder, who added a late consolation goal in the loss last week, snuck into a crowded back to net from an accurate pass form the right.
Five minutes from time, Borja Iglesias added his 17th goal of the season when he outmuscled defender Joaquín to finish past René. Argentinian Pablo Caballero pulled a consolation back for the visitors in injury time but it was not enough to prevent his side suffering their fourth defeat in six matches. Real Zaragoza have won four in the same period and sit in seventh.
LATE, LATE DRAMA IN GRANADA!
Liga 123 saved its best game for last in Week 36 as Granada played out an enthralling, controversial draw with Cultural Leonesa in a match that saw the visitors somehow snatch a point.
Pierre Kunde opened the scoring for El Graná when he stabbed home from inside the box after Cultural goalkeeper Jorge Palatsí had failed to punch clear properly.
After the break, Darwin Machís got the better of Palatsí, netting at the second attempt after the ‘keeper had blocked his initial attempt. The hosts were up by two goals and appeared to be cruising to victory.
However, they began to unravel. Firstly, Cultural pulled a goal back when Granada defender Matthieu Saunier headed Ángel García’s cross into his own net. Although Kunde scored with a beautifully directed header to extend the hosts’ lead, they found themselves a man light ten minutes from time, after Víctor Díaz was somewhat harshly sent off. The defender received his marching orders when it looked like Cultural’s Iban Salvador ran into him.
What followed was extraordinary. Granada goalkeeper Javi Varas gave away a penalty as he brought down Issac Carcelén but Yeray González’s resultant spot kick looked more like a rugby conversion as it sailed high over the bar to the delight of the Los Cármenes crowd. Midfielder Sergio Marcos then reduced the arrears with a cool left-footed finish past Javi Varas in the 89th minute and the home crowd were stunned when, in injury time, Portuguese midfielder Thierry Moutinho lashed home from a tight angle to rescue a draw.
Numancia were held to a surprising goalless draw at Gimnàstic. Having won four out of five prior to this, a win would have put the Numantinos ahead of Cádiz but they stay in fourth. The Catalans are in 16th.
Another stalemate took place in Alcorcón as the hosts drew for the second week in a row, this time against Osasuna who also picked up a point for the second consecutive match.
Lorca rescued a late point away to Lugo as Dani Ojeda’s goal three minutes from time cancelled out namesake Dani Escriche’s opener early in the second half.
Reus left it even later to win away at Albacete, Luís Gustavo netting in the 91st minute to steal all three points and move them up one place to 13th.