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Ünal goal seals vital win





Enes Ünal 56'

Real Valladolid earned three crucial points in their hunt for survival, by overcoming a stuffy RCD Mallorca at Son Moix on Saturday.

A solitary goal from Enes Ünal in the second half – which rounded off some great work by Sergi Guardiola – was enough to edge Pucela past their fellow strugglers and stem the tide of nine league matches without victory.

Vicente Moreno made only two adjustments to the side who crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Real Sociedad in the previous round. Fran Gámez, who scored a second-half own-goal in the loss, was replaced by Juan Sastre at right-back. Aleix Febas dropped to the bench from midfield as Los Bermellones went for a 4-4-1-1 look, with Cucho Hernández playing behind the team’s top-scorer Ante Budimir in attack.

Óscar Plano battles with RCD Mallorca defender Lumor Agbenyenu (Image: Noticias Mallorca)

Sergio’s side had failed to register a win since they beat Mallorca 3-0 at home in Round 12 on November 3rd last year, and were desperate to put some daylight between themselves and the bottom clubs as they came into this match five points above the relegation zone with their opponents just one place below them. The manager made several changes to his starting line-up following last weekend’s narrow 1-0 home loss to league leaders Real Madrid. There was a return for club captain Javi Moyano, who reprised his role at right-back having missed the Madrid match and featured at left-back in the previous two league outings as cover for Nacho before the arrival of Raúl Carnero. This move relegated Antoñito to the bench. Toni Villa and Óscar Plano, who both came on as substitutes in the defeat, started on the left and right flanks respectively. Fede San Emeterio dropped to the bench and Joaquín missed out through injury.

The visitors started very brightly and signalled their intent to take the match to their opponents from the outset with chances falling to Ünal and Plano in quick succession inside the opening minutes. The Turkish forward guided a header on target from Raúl Carnero’s delivery and Plano saw his shot blocked as it went goalward. With 20 minutes on the clock, Toni Villa sent in a long drive which was saved by Manolo Reina. Shortly after, Ünal again got a header on target – this time from Míchel’s cross – but the home goalkeeper was equal to the task.

Míchel keeps up with Idrissu Baba in midfield (Image: Real Valladolid Instagram)

As the clock approached half an hour, the islanders had the ball in the net after advancing down the left flank. Lumor had overlapped from his left-back position and carried the ball towards the by-line before cutting it back to Dani Rodríguez for the midfielder to crash the ball past Jordi Masip. As the Son Moix crowd celebrated an important goal, referee David Medie consulted with VAR and the goal was disallowed when replays showed that Lumor had carried the whole ball just over the boundary before his pass to Rodríguez.

The remainder of the first half saw a brace of shots from Cucho Hernández fail to trouble Masip’s goal, and Toni Villa attempted a curling effort which was gathered cleanly by Reina, so the sides headed into the break with no score.

In the second period of play, Sergi Guardiola hit a left-footed shot from outside the box but Reina got across to smother the ball low down. At the other end, Masip was called into action to deny Salva Sevilla as he scampered across his goal to save low to his left after the midfielder had managed a tame effort inside the crowded penalty area.

Just before the hour mark, Real Valladolid made the breakthrough. Lumor lost possession near Pucela’s corner flag and the ball fell into the path of Sergi Guardiola who burst forward up the right touchline, leaving Sevilla in his wake and riding the challenge of substitute Xisco Campos. When he reached the box, his initial cross was blocked by Campos but he took the rebound and delivered a pinpoint ball onto the six yard line which was met by the head of Ünal who outfought Sastre and powered a header into the net for his fourth league goal of the campaign.

Enes Ünal's - on the ground - sees his header gets past RCD Mallorca goalkeeper Manolo Reina for the decisive goal (Image: AS)

Moreno introduced Takefusa Kubo in place of Dani Rodríguez and the on-loan Japanese teenager began to immediately show his quality with deft touches and intelligence in his passing. With a little over quarter of an hour to play, he had an opportunity to test Masip from inside the box, but his shot lacked conviction and the Real Valladolid goalkeeper made a comfortable stop. Then, ten minutes later, some good work by Lumor on the left saw him play the ball across the face of the box and it was touched on to Kubo by Hernández. The young starlet worked some space for the shot but saw it go narrowly wide right.

This was as close as the Mallorcans came, and Sergio’s side emerged victorious with three points which hoisted them up two places to 14th and seven points away from the drop zone. There is not time to rest though, as a stern test awaits them at the José Zorrilla when seventh-placed Villarreal come visiting on Saturday.

RCD MALLORCA (4-4-1-1): Manolo Reina (Capt.); Lumor Agbenyenu, Antono Raíllo (Xisco Campos 49’), Martin Valjent, Juan Sastre (Alejandro Pozo 70’), Salva Sevilla, Lago Junior, Idrissu Baba, Daniel Rodríguez (Takefusa Kubo 59’), Cucho Hernández, Ante Budimir.

Substitutes unused: Fabri; Marc Pedraza, Aleix Febas, Abdon Prats.

REAL VALLADOLID (4-4-2): Jordi Masip; Raúl Carnero, Mohammed Salisu, Kiko Olivas, Javi Moyano (Capt.), Toni Villa (Pablo Hervías 72’), Rubén Alcaraz, Míchel, Óscar Plano (Waldo 87’), Enes Ünal (Fede San Emeterio 90’).

Substitutes unused: Samu Pérez; Javi Sánchez, Antoñito, Sandro Ramírez.

Referee: David Medie

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