15th March, 2007. At the RSC Olimpiyskiy in Donetsk, Sevilla are struggling to score. 4-3 down on aggregate, with just 50 seconds on the clock, Sevilla need to score to take the match to extra time.
The goalkeeper comes into the penalty area in a last ditch attempt. Andrés Palop, the sweeper keeper, known for his bold, attacking mentality, is in the box.
Dani Alves takes the corner, a strong, powerful delivery swinging away from Bohdan Shust, the Shakhtar keeper. Palop is running away, sensing that the ball will swerve away.
The connection is perfect, the placement accurate, the header unreachable - the ball nestles in the bottom right corner of the net.
Estadio El Collao. A stadium that has been in operation since 1929, and has hosted matches for Alcoyano in La Liga, Segunda, Segunda B, Tercera and even the Regional Preferente. It has seen Alcoyano thrash Sporting Gijon 6-1 in the first division and beaten 9-1 in the third (then the Tercera). And it has seen it’s pitch being initially made by soldiers from Alcoy, covered by snow every winter and became the symbol of socialism and anarcho-syndicalism during the Spanish Civil War.
But through all those times - the sporting success and failure, the destruction of Alcoy during the war and it’s rebuilding, the balance between industrial success in textiles, paper and metal and the immediate threat of desertification - one thing has remained intact. Untouched. Non-negotiable.
CD Alcoyano’s philosophy.
They are a team that will never lose their attacking mentality. A team that will never stop fighting. A team that, almost senselessly, will throw men forward from the first minute to the 93rd.
Tener más moral que el Alcoyano, or "to have more morale than Alcoyano", was the phrase that captures the essence of CD Alcoyano, and is still used today to describe a team that plays bravely. There are many theories as to how the phrase was coined, specifying individual games.
But more than one game in particular, the reference is made to the spirit that has always characterized this team. And it is that spirit which Villarreal B need to be wary of.
Last season, Alcoyano came sixth but ended up with a negative goal difference, conceding 41 goals - an inevitable consequence of their attacking philosophy. This season, they boast the least draws in the league - unsurprisingly, they prefer to lose than to not win - but also the best defense.
New signing Marc Martinez, born in Barcelona and a typical La Masia goalkeeper, has played for the B teams of Racing, Depor and Elche and has kept many a team at bay. He boasts the best record in the league - just 12 goals in 17 matches is an indication of his quality and of the team’s tightened defence.
Up front, French striker Yacine Qasmi is providing the goods with eight goals so far. Signed from SD Compostela - another team with the same attacking philosophy - he is finally showing why he was once a PSG player destined for bigger things.
Andrés Palop, in just his first managerial experience, has created a team that is confident at the back and deadly upfront, a team that personifies his own style of play as a player. A team that has had already beaten Villarreal B 2-0 this season. A team that has kept 11 clean sheets and has 11 different goalscorers.
A team that will trouble Villarreal B from the first minute to the 93rd.