Villarreal gave up a tying goal on the last play of the match at the Alcoraz today; it would have hardly been a deserved win had the Submarine come away with 3 points, but as it was, with us now on 15 points and Athletic Club hoping to pass us tomorrow (they host Alavés in a Basque derby), we go into the winter break with memories of our 2011-12 relegation season all around.
New coach Luis García Plaza did make a few changes compared to the Celta match, but not a lot of good things happened today. Huesca took the lead with a penalty conceded by Manu Trigueros shortly before halftime; Villarreal evened it with a penalty of its own in the 63rd minute, Carlos Bacca converting, but shortly after that Huesca were awarded another penalty, and Mario Gaspar was sent off for his second yellow card.
Gonzalo Melero took the penalty and Sergio Asenjo saved it—then, with nine minutes of the 90 remaining, Gerard Moreno put Villarreal in front. Could we hold out with 10 men? It seemed as if possibly so, until.....the last play of the game, when Samuele Longo headed home a cross, easily rising over the Villarreal defenders. Two very important points gone begging.
MotM: Sergio Asenjo, no question.
I don’t know where we go from here. Too many players are not pulling their weight—in fact, the list of players who have completed 2018 with distinction would be rather short. In fact, apart from Asenjo, I’m not sure who else I would include. Obviously we can’t remake the entire roster in January, but there are too many players (Pedraza, Layun, Trigueros...) who are offering little—though Pedraza at least put in a good cross for our second goal today.
Granted we were a man short for the last 25 minutes, but allowing the bottom team in the league to have nearly 30 shots is just ridiculous and shows how poorly our midfield is controlling play. We haven’t got anyone who can play in the pivote with Caseres and offer a more defensive role to his attack-minded one; our defense can’t defend a lead, and we can’t control play enough to kill the game off.
About the only positive that can be said is that our strikers have shown signs of breaking out of their slump.
Coach García said afterward that the team had shown good character in coming back and was pretty diplomatic (we had good moments, we had bad moments), while Gerard Moreno was distraught with the last-minute goal and result.
As someone said on twitter, this match was exactly the kind where if you win it, you feel you are moving away from the bottom and into safety. Give up a last-minute tying goal, as we did, is typical of teams that slide down into the Segunda. We are where we are: a clear candidate to be relegated at the end of this season.
In 2011-12, even as the team was petrified on the pitch and threw away point after point, the fanbase had this naive delusion that somehow we would survive. And that year, we only fell into the final relegation spot at the very end. This year? We could be in 18th after Monday’s match.
One hopes that our new coach will be able to get the Submarine out of the mire.