They may be flying under the radar, but keep your eye on Ponferradina. - Angel Martinez
It wasn't just Villarreal who scored a late winner; so did Alcorcon and Las Palmas. Allen recaps a weekend of wacky finishes in the Segunda Division--and points out a team to watch.
What a wild weekend it was in the Segunda, with a number of ding-dong games between teams in the top half of the table. We should have known it would be interesting when the first match, Barcelona B- Cordoba, ended 4-3. The baby blaugrana, with Deulofeu and Alberto outstanding as usual, led 4-1 with three minutes remaining. Then Cordoba scored twice within the space of two minutes and hit the bar in injury time, but Barca held on.
Elche's triumphal march to the Segunda title was halted, at least temporarily, by plucky Mirandes, who handed the illicitanos their first defeat at home this season. A 44th-minute goal from ex-Real Sociedad man Diaz de Cerio was all Carlos Pouso's men needed in a feisty encounter, with a player from each team sent off late.
Almeria lost at home as well, going down 3-2 to Las Palmas. The islanders led 2-0 at halftime with goals from Murillo (off a corner) and Christanus, but Vitolo picked up his second yellow card for a minor handball violation in the middle of the pitch, and was sent off just before the break. Not surprisingly, the home team pushed forward, with striker Charles in the middle of most of the action. He pushed a penalty kick wide of the mark, but shortly afterward, in a carbon copy of Las Palmas's first goal, headed home powerfully from a well-taken corner, and minutes later banged one off the post with keeper Barbosa beaten. In the 81st minute Ruben Castro scored from outside the box to tie things up, but Las Palmas weren't done yet. After a free kick deflected off the wall and behind for a corner, Murillo repeated his earlier feat and headed home off the resulting cross. Quite a match. Highlights are available here, and are well worth watching!
Alcorcon left it until very late, trailing the polka-dotted Recreativo 1-0 at home before equalizing in the 90th minute and winning in the fourth minute of injury time through Dani Nieto. The locals had dominated the match (outshooting Recre 21 to 4) so it was probably a just result, but still hard on the Decano. They're now in that mid-table position from where it looks like the rest of the season may not mean much.
Girona won 2-1 on Sunday as well, despite having a man sent off late. Huesca took the lead in this game through Borja but Felipe Sanchon and Acuna scored within the space of five minutes late in the first half, and that's how it remained.
A potentially important match on Sabadell's potato patch. Already behind 1-0 to Ponferradina in the 70th minute, the home side had goalkeeper Nauzet sent off, and coach Lluis Carreras had already made his three substitutions. Not surprisingly, late goals from Jonathan and Yuri padded the scoreline.
Villarreal, of course, defeated Sporting 2-1 at El Madrigal through an Uche goal at the death, and highlights of that match are here in case you haven't seen them. Missing is what's become a tradition in the last few weeks, a clear penalty to Villarreal ignored by the referee, but at least this time Marcelino was in the stands watching so couldn't be suspended again!
Keep an eye on Ponfe and Las Palmas; both have now played all the top five clubs. The islanders of course are strong at home, and if they can get anything out of their road matches, should comfortably make the playoffs, where their firepower make them a dangerous match for any team.
Ponferradina have flown under the radar, but are only a point behind the islanders, and have the benefit of playing the Pio Pio in Ponfe. Coach Claudio Barragán has this unfancied team playing very well, and it's worth remembering they moved up in the table courtesy of a stretch in late November and December when they posted six straight wins against teams currently below them. It took them some time to get going again after the winter break (losses to Racing and Lugo) but their last eight matches are all winnable.
As for Almeria, Alcorcon, Girona and Villarreal, they all have matches left against each other, as well as Elche. It's possible one of these clubs could emerge from this group and leave the rest behind; it's also possible they can all take enough points from each other that clubs like Las Palmas, Ponfe, even Cordoba and Sporting, could move ahead of at least some of them. As we've been saying about Villarreal's recent matches, piling up the points against teams one should beat is key.
Lugo 0-0 Numancia
Xerez 0-1 Guadalajara
Racing 2-1 Real Murcia
RM Castilla 1-1 Hércules