Girona looked set to claim another home win, but Alavés showed incredible character to come back from 2-0 down at the Montilivi. The comeback came courtesy of some great substitutions by new manager Abelardo Fernández who starts his tenure with a win.
As predicted, it was a game with some preventable defensive errors. Both sides were without three defenders each due to injuries or yellow card suspensions. At times, it definitely showed.
The first half was rather uneventful, with both sides afraid to put a foot wrong. Around ten minutes into the second half, the breakthrough arrived. Once again, the scoring was opened with a goal from Cristhian Stuani. The Uruguayan has been indispensable this season for Girona. He powered into the box, shrugged off Alexis and fired home. Girona continued to press and within minutes they had a second, courtesy of a header from Juanpe.
At this point, the match seemed to be all over. But, with La Liga even the worst team in the table can make a comeback. In the 70th minute, Ibai Gómez started the assault with a shot on goal that deflected off Gorka Iraizoz and back into the path of the oncoming winger. The two Girona defenders chasing Gómez should have arrived at the deflection first to send it for a corner. But, Gómez was the one who anticipated the return and took full advantage making it 2-1.
Girona was nervous at this point, and again an error at the back meant that Yassine Bounou conceded a penalty. Gómez capitalized to equalize the match. Finally, in the dying minutes of the match Gómez got his hatrick. A strong run from Munir El Haddadi from the halfway line almost to the edge of the penalty box, teed up Gómez inside the box who put it away in the 93rd minute. Girona coach Pablo Machín was visibly furious, hitting the roof of the dugout in disgust.
Hat-trick y el balón para casa… 😆⚽️🏠
— LaLiga (@LaLiga) December 4, 2017
After the match, Machín explained that he was frustrated because he thought the crowd had been amazing and wanted to toast with the fans. Of the team he said, “it’s necessary to life the moral and return to being a competitive team with the quality that we have demonstrated during the whole competition. Following this line, I am sure that we will obtain results.”
Fernández was pleased with Alavés’ performance. “The team demonstrated a mental strength and that they believed. This is a difficult ground against a team that is having an extraordinary season.”
Alavés have limped to just above their position of dead last in the table. They are now one point above Málaga. It will take some time to show if today’s win was just beginner’s luck for Fernández, or if the Spaniard can get the club out of the relegation zone. After all, Di Biasi also started his debut with a win and he left the club just this week.
Meanwhile, Girona look ahead to a Catalan derby next Monday at Espanyol. The Whites and Reds are still fixed on their current goal to get to 20 points in the table. As a newly promoted side, Girona’s challenge for this season is just to stay in the first division.