A superb first half performance from Real Valladolid ensured they are firmly in the driving seat ahead of the second leg of their playoff encounter with Sporting Gijón as they dispatched their rivals 3-1 at the José Zorrilla on Thursday evening.
Three goals in a frenetic eight-minute period stunned the visitors, who could only muster a reply from Jony with twenty minutes remaining.
Pucela opened the scoring on 29 minutes through defender Fernando Calero. Óscar Plano took a quick free kick, playing the ball to Pablo Hervías on the right flank. His delivery into the box made it all the way through to Calero who ghosted in at the back post and sent a half volley past Sporting goalkeeper Diego Mariño. Protests from the visiting players that striker Jaime Mata had fouled his marker as the ball came into the box were waved away by referee Señor Díaz de Mera.
Six minutes later, Sergio González’s side were two goals up after Pablo Hervías added a free kick which was almost a carbon copy of the opening goal in last week’s win over Osasuna; the match that secured a playoff place for Real Valladolid. He curled a right-footed freekick over the Sporting wall and placed it into the top left corner of Diego Mariño’s goal.
Sporting manager, Rubén Baraja, watched from the stands as he continues to serve his touchline ban and his mood would not have been improved as his side very quickly conceded a third, in calamitous fashion. Mata gathered the ball inside the box looking to get a shot away with Juan Rodríguez in close attention. As the striker twisted inwards to evade the defender, an attempted clearance by Jordi Calavera went straight into the net.
Chances were far rarer in the second half as Real Valladolid sat back to protect their lead. However, Mata came close to adding to his 33 goal tally when he sliced narrowly past the post from Óscar Plano’s neat delivery.
The visitors gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the 70th minute when Rubén Garcia played in Jony and the striker finished with confidence past Jordi Masip to claim his sixth goal of the campaign. However, this was all Sporting were able to gain from the match and they have a mountain to climb when the sides meet again on Sunday evening at El Molinon.