As Liga 123 moves towards it’s penultimate week, we found out the first of the teams who will be playing La Liga football next season, as well as those who have to wait at least another round to discover their fate. The floodgates opened with 38 goals being scored over the week’s matches, with the home teams dominating by winning eight out of the 11 fixtures. There was an eight-goal thriller between Gimnàstic and Cultural, and four teams scored four or more goals in their matches.
Huesca (2nd) earned promotion for the first time in the club’s history after a 2-0 win away at Lugo (21st), sparking scenes of jubilation among the section of travelling fans at El Alcoraz stadium and throughout the town of Huesca itself in the hours after the match.
The visitors took an early lead through Álex Gallar’s fine left-footed finish with just six minutes played. The second came in more fortuitous circumstances. Possible handball was overlooked by the referee and the move was finished off by Jorge Pulido seven minutes before halftime when he cleverly netted from David Ferriero’s delivery.
What makes Huesca’s achievement all the more impressive is that they are operating on the league’s 19th smallest budget and, despite enduring an eight-match winless run this spring, have spent 23 out of the 40 weeks in either first or second place.
Title chasers Rayo Vallecano (2nd) were stunned 4-0 away to Alcorcón (17th) in the Madrid derby at the Santo Domingo on Saturday. They were never really in this tie from the get-go and succumbed to defeat thanks, in part, to some woeful defending.
Los Alfareros took the lead in just six minutes. Good work down the right hand side from Portuguese midfielder, Bruno Gama, saw him play in Álvaro Peña and his side-footed effort from the edge of the box took a slight deflection before finding it’s way past Alberto in the Rayo goal.
Alcorcón were dealt a blow when goalkeeper Casto had to be replaced by Dani Jiménez after the first choice stopper fell awkwardly collecting a high ball. The hosts gave away a penalty from David Fernández’s challenge on Santi Comesaña, hauling the Rayo player down in the box from behind. However, the substitute goalkeeper got down well to his right to deny the prolific Raúl de Tomás from levelling the score from the spot.
In the second half, Alcorcón won a penalty of their own through Fran Beltrán’s hand-ball as he slid in to try and stifle a cutback from rightback Laure. Álvaro Jiménez took the spot-kick and Alberto repeated his counterpart’s trick by diving right to save the initial attempt but Danile Toribio reacted quickest and converted the loose ball to put the hosts up by two.
By now, Julio Velázquez’s side had their tails up and ten minutes later they added another score. There was another slice of good fortune about this one as Mateo García fed the ball out left to Álvaro Giménez, whose effort was blocked by Alberto, but it fell into the path of García who stabbed home from close range.
The rout was completed two minutes from the end, as Giménez did eventually find a way past Alberto. This time he knocked in a rebound after Rayo failed to clear a loose ball from their own penalty area and it took several ricochets before finding the striker who tapped in from just outside the six yard area. Following last weekend’s defeat to relegation-threatened Córdoba, this latest loss summed up a miserable afternoon for Michel’s Rayo who could have earned promotion with a win but will have to wait until their next match to try and win a return to La Liga. For Alcorcón, this fine win lifted them from 17th to 14th but they remain on the cusp of the drop zone, just three points above 19th placed Córdoba.
Tenerife (11th) ended a run of three losses and two draws by upsetting Sporting (3rd) at the Heliodoro Rodríguez López in the first of the Week 40 matches on Friday night. Filip Malbasic’s 82nd minute winner was enough to hand Rubén Baraja’s Sporting side their third consecutive loss as they waved goodbye to their title hopes.
In Catalonia, Barcelona B (20th) are enjoying a mini-revival under new manager Francisco Javier García Pimienta, and have now won their last two outings after surprising Cádiz (4th) 3-1. Marc Cardona headed them into an early lead shortly after quarter of an hour, powering a header from a corner past Alberto Cifuentes. He added his, and his side’s, second goal ten minutes later from the penalty spot after he had been hacked down by Dutch defender Lucas Bijker.
On the stroke of halftime, Cádiz found themselves three down due to some woeful defending. A mix-up in communication sold Cifuentes short on a back-pass and Nahuel stole in before finishing from a tight angle outside the box into an empty net.
Álvaro Cervera’s side enjoyed more possession in the second half but were unable to manage any more than a consolation goal a minute from time when Barcelona B goalkeeper Adrián Ortolá couldn’t hold David Barral’s shot and Álvaro García tapped in to reduce the arrears on a disappointing afternoon which saw his team slide down to sixth. Barcelona B continue in their bid to escape the trapdoor and are three points from safety.
A hat-trick from midfielder Giorgi Papunashvili propelled Real Zaragoza (5th) to a 4-1 demolition of Albacete ( 14th) at La Romareda. The big Georgian, known as “Papu”, got his first when he curled past Tomeu Nadal after a Borja Iglesias pass had unlocked the Albacete defence.
However, Albacete drew level thanks to Ukranian forward Roman Zozulia who drove in from the right flank to finish past Cristian Álvarez for his second goal in two matches. However, this was as close as the visitors got and Real Zaragoza were back in front six minutes later, Papu gratefully receiving the cut-back on the left across the face of goal from Jorge Pombo and tapping into the net.
His side had a two goal cushion heading into the break as Ander Zapater got in on the act, running onto Pombo’s deflected through ball and finishing with the outside of his right foot past Nadal.
Ten minutes after the restart, Papu claimed his hat-trick and it was, once again, down to the assist from Jorge Pombo although he may well have been penalised for a shoulder barge on Chus Hererro in the build up. As it stood, no foul was given and Pombo squared a ball for his compatriot to claim his seventh goal of the season.
It was a dominant performance from Natxo González’s charges who moved up one place to fourth and they welcome Real Valladolid in a crunch match on Sunday, with a solitary point separating the sides. Albacete fall for the fourth time in five matches and drop to 15th.
Real Valladolid (7th) travelled southeast to Lorca (21st) needing a win to keep in playoff contention, and hammered five past their hosts despite going a goal down. League top-scorer Jaime Mata, already confirmed as leaving the club for Getafe in the summer regardless of Pucela’s finish in the league, bagged a hat-trick to take his tally to 32 in the league this year.
Carlos Pomares put the hosts into a surprise lead on 19 minutes as he headed in a corner, which took a big deflection off Óscar Plano’s head and Michel was unable to clear it off the line. However, it was one way traffic from there on in. Real Valladolid drew level on 33 minutes through Borja Fernández’s deft finish from the corner of the penalty area, although it is questionable as to whether or not he intended it as a cross. After Lorca had headed away a freekick from the left by Míchel, the ball fell to Borja and he lifted it back towards goal and it nestled inside the back post out of the reach of home goalkeeper Francisco Dorronsoro.
Five minutes after the restart, Real Valladolid won a penalty as Carlos Pomares tripped Pablo Hervías in the area. Mata sent Dorronsoro the wrong way to double his side’s lead. His second came on 73 minutes; Dorronsoro parried a long range drive from Óscar Plano and, in his attempt to stop the ball rolling over the line, he scooped it backwards but straight into the path of Mata who knocked it home uncontested.
Real Valladolid’s fourth came as Míchel finished off a slick counter-attacking move that began just inside his own half. The midfielder burst forward and supplied Greek teammate Giannis Gianniotas, on-loan from Olimpiacos, who tiptoed his way through a flat-footed home defence and returned the favour to Míchel and he lightly lifted the ball over the Lorca ‘keeper. The scoring was completed in the dying stages of the match when Mata grabbed his third from close-range after being set up by Gianniotas’s industry attacking from the right.
Sergio Gonazález’s side now lie in fifth, one point behind Real Zaragoza ahead of Sunday’s vital meeting between the two.
Numancia (6th) and Osasuna (8th) both needed a win to boost their playoff hopes, but in the end the sides had to settle for a point as a very late Higinio Marín equaliser for the hosts forced a 1-1 draw. Quique González got his head to a deep freekick from the left and powered the ball past Aitor to give his team the lead.
This looked to have been enough, but in the 91st minute the home supporters in Los Parajitos were sent into raptures as, following a Numancia corner, Marín pulled the hosts level. He rose at the back post to deliver a downward header past substitute ‘keeper Manu Herrera, who had come on to replace his injured namesake Sergio Herrera earlier in the second half.
The result may prove costly for each team as Osasuna fall one place to ninth, overtaken by Real Oviedo, and Numancia drop out of the playoff berths as they slip to seventh.
Despite being contested by two teams in the bottom half of the league, the award for most entertaining match of the round would go, without a shadow of a doubt, to Gimnàstic (18th) and Cultural Leonesa’s (16th) epic 5-3 battle which saw the hosts overturn a 2-0 halftime deficit.
Antonio Martinez got the first for the men from León on seven minutes, driving forward and making his second effort count after his initial shot had been blocked. Ten minutes later, they were two goals to the good after Emiliano Buendía lashed home from close range. At the break, Cultural were firmly in command.
Less than ten minutes after play resumed, a glimmer of hope arrived in the form of Álvaro Vázquez who took advantage of some hesitant defending and beat Jorge in the visitor’s goal. Just two minutes later, they were level when Issac Carcélen made a mess of trying to clear a cross from the left and chested into the path of Manu Barreiro who made no mistake, smashing past Jorge uncontested on the edge of the six yard line.
The defender was further at fault, allowing Ikechukwu Uche to steal behind him and turn the ball in at the back post from a corner and suddenly the hosts had their noses in front. The frenetic pace continued and Barreiro netted for the second time in the afternoon to make it 4-2, capitalising on Jean Luc Assoubre’s cross which the Cultural defence failed to deal with.
Further pain was heaped onto the hapless visitors who lost Ivan Garrido for a second bookable offence on 82 minutes, a clumsy trip on Barreiro in the build-up play earned him a red card. Nicolao Dumitru scored Nàstic’s fifth and final goal two minutes later, burying a shot from the beside the penalty spot through the static defence and past Jorge.
Cultural pulled a goal back to make it look slightly more respectable when Josep Señé tapped in, but there was no disguising the fact that woeful second half defending had cost them this match. Nàstic leapfrog their opponents into 17th.
Elsewhere, Real Oviedo (9th) stayed in contention by beating Sevilla Atlético (22nd) 2-1 at the Carlos Tartiere on Saturday. Home midfielder Ramon Fólch opened the scoring after heading in from a beautiful passing build up, but also put through his own net later in the match. Christian Fernández’s goal was not enough to spare the Andalusians from a loss which saw the Oviedistas move up to seventh.
Granada (10th) snapped a barren run of three losses in a row as a solitary Alex Martínez goal was enough to push them past Reus (13th) 1-0 who lost for the first time in five matches. Cordoba (19th) could still escape the drop and they turned in a good performance in a 2-0 win over Almería (15th) in the Andalusian derby at the Nuevo Arcángel which helps their cause no end. They capitalised on visiting goalkeeper Rene’s own goal 25 minutes in and added another through Quim Araújo in the final moments. Almería’s misery was compounded through the dismissal of Sulayman Marreh in the second half.