The 13,900 crowd didn't have to worry about staying awake. The Yellow Submarine came from behind (again) to beat a tough Valladolid in a lively game. There were a lot of great performances on the night. It was teamwork capped by a moment of genius first from Ruben Gracia Cani in the wee hours of Sunday.
You would think a home opener would have attracted a lot more people than a 13900. But the 11pm kick-off made it next to impossible for fans traveling from the nearby towns as there is no public transport option after midnight. This sort of a kick-off might be ok in a big city where a lot more transport options are available but it is very detrimental for small town teams like ours. Guess what is the kick-off time for our next game? 11pm in El Sadar.
I missed the first 8 minutes, but by all accounts and watching highlights it seems like JIM did have something up his sleeve to surprise the home team. Very neat finish from Javi Guerra put Valladolid up 0-1. Marcelino surprised with his starting lineup by option for Giovani Dos Santos and Jonathan Pereira upfront along with Aquino on the right. This had a few advantages as well as disadvantages. While this allowed for a lot of movement in the attacking third, it also meant that the ball had to played to the feet (all the time) of our small but mobile forwards. We were quick but our options of scoring a goal were limited. No aerial threat. No hold-up play where a center-forward keeps the possession alive and enables more players to join the attack.
Valladolid was doing a good job of defending us despite conceding possession but as the halftime approached sustained attacks and possession from the Submarine yielded a penalty which Gio duly converted to make it 2 goals in 2 games for the Mexican.
Pereira, Aquino and Gio's speed caused a lot of problems to Valladolid defense but the threat they posed was fairly 1-dimensional.
The 2nd half started off on a scary note with Gio asking for a sub. (apparently he came out as a precaution and there is nothing serious to worry about). Jeremy Perbet came on Gio but it took a while for the team to adapt without Gio. Marcelino then sent in Uche in place of the tiring Pereira. Uche's arrival changed the complexion of the game. He did a good job of holding up the ball with his back to the goal and bringing more players into the attack. Perbet and Aquino combined for a couple of good chances but the Frenchman missed them narrowly. Valladolid was tiring and the lack of a deep bench caught up with them.
Game, set and match
The game winner came from a what looked like a routine goal-kick from Sergio Asenjo. His long quick was skillfully brought down by Perbet in one swift move he controlled, turned and passed the ball into the path of an onrushing Cani who dribbled past a defender and took a shot on the run that gave no chance to Diego Mariño(who was excellent on the night).
This is the second straight game in which Cani played all 90 minutes. Marcelino has definitely enhanced the career of Cani who always had the talent but never had the consistency. Just skill, technique and intelligence gave us a 65-minute intermittent Cani. Add good fitness to the list and we have a rejuvenated, more active and less intermittent Cani for 90-minutes.
Bruno was stellar in the central-midfield. So was Trigueros for the most part. But he needs to work on his skills on the defensive side of the ball.
Where do we go from here?
6 points in 2 games means we *only* need about 37 more points to stay-up. On a serious note, we have beaten two teams who are going to feature in the scrap of 10-12 teams trying to avoid relegation.
We have a tough away trip to Pamplona to play a desperate Osasuna who are looking for their first points. That is followed by the FIFA break and then Real Madrid at home. If we have more than 7 points after 4 games, it is worth celebrating.
1. Shots(On Target) - VIL - 17(6), VAL - 6(2)
2. Bruno Soriano had the most touches 108 of all the players in the game. He completed 76/92 passes.
3. Javier Aquino and Jeremy Perbet wer fouled the most (4 each)
4. Manu Trigueros attempted the most crosses (8)