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Confident win makes it five unbeaten




Sergi Guardiola 10’, Mohammed Salisu 39’


Real Valladolid disposed of an underwhelming Eibar side to go five matches unbeaten in La Liga. An early goal from Sergi Guardiola was added to by impressive central defender Mohammed Salisu six minutes before halftime to secure the three points.

There were ties to Real Valladolid throughout the Eibar coaching staff and players. Coach José Luis Mendilibar – in his second spell at the helm of the Basques – is a revered and highly respected figure in Pucela folklore, having guided the blanquivioletas to promotion by winning the Segunda in 2008. He is currently assisted by Iñaki Bea Jauregi who played at the José Zorrilla between 2006 and 2009 during Mendilibar’s tenure as coach. On the field, Pedro León scored five goals in Real Valladolid colours in just under a year at the club. He famously provided the assist for Fabián Cannobio to score the only goal of a home win against Real Madrid in 2008. Fellow forward Quique was born in Valladolid and had been a member of the youth academy and Promesas before breaking into the first team for a short time.

Following on from last week’s draw away at Athletic Club, Sergio kept the faith in the same eleven for this home encounter with the Basque side who were marking their 200th La Liga match in the club’s history.

The hospitality extended to the visitors to celebrate the occasion was promptly extinguished at the opening whistle as Pucela settled into a rhythm quickly and this was rewarded with a goal after ten minutes. Inside his own half, Míchel played a long ball from the left flank which spilt the Eibar centre-back pairing of Anaitz Arbilla and Paulo Oliveira and arrived with precision at the feet of Óscar Plano. The midfielder touched it first time into the path of Sergi Guardiola who fired a left-footed shot past Marko Dmitrovic for his third goal of the season.

Sergi Guardiola got Real Valladolid off to a flying start (Image: Real Valladolid)

Salisu continues to flourish in the senior side, looking every inch the experienced campaigner. He snuffed out a promising move by Eibar as they began to exert some pressure over a ten-minute period around the half hour mark. Edu Expósito combined with Quique but the Ghanaian stifled the striker’s attempt on goal. Pedro León came close to scoring against his old side with a shot from the edge of the box, which was on target, but home goalkeeper Jordi Masip was alert to the danger and got down quickly to his left to save confidently. He was then called into action again moments later to gather Fabián Orellana’s header after the Chilean had directed an effort on target.

At the other end, Real Valladolid won a corner which was taken short by Míchel to Óscar Plano. The provider of the assist for the opening goal played in Nacho who drove the ball across the face of goal all the way to Salisu at the back post who had the simplest of tap-ins to an empty net. The customary VAR check showed that the defender had indeed been marginally onside as the ball was played in and the goal stood. Rapturous applause greeted the young players first ever senior goal and Sergio’s side were firmly in control at the break.

Mohammed Salisu celebrates his first senior goal (Image: Real Valladolid)

Mendilibar changed to a more attacking shape by taking off right-back Álvaro Tejero at half time and replacing him with Sergi Enrich in a bid to bolster the side going forward. However, there was a creative spark missing and Pucela picked up where they had left off in the first half. The hosts enjoyed the bigger share of scoring opportunities despite being second best in terms of possession. Óscar Plano looked like he had extended the lead further when he got the ball in the net ten minutes after the restart, but Toni Villa was adjudged to have been narrowly offside in the build-up play. It has become a rarity to see a match in La Liga where Pucela looked capable of scoring on most forays forward, especially at home, and the Zorrilla crowd showed their appreciation.

Toni Villa was replaced on 69 minutes for Jorge De Frutos to make his second appearance of the season, having made his debut at the same juncture last week at San Mamés.

Masip came off his line well to claim a high ball which looked destined to be met by the head of Enrich and this was followed up four minutes later when Expósito drove a shot from the edge of the box wide right as they looked to claw back a goal.

Óscar Plano continued to be industrious, serving up a tempting delivery for Sergi Guardiola but the striker could only find the side netting from a tight angle. Moments later, the midfielder found himself one-on-one with Dmitrovic but the big Serbian parried the shot to his right.

The home fans were treated to a confident display from their team (Image: Real Valladolid)

With eleven minutes remaining, Sergio replaced Enes Ünal for Anuar in an attempt to close down the match. The midfielder appears as if he is being utilised in a late-replacement role this campaign, having not featured for more than 16 minutes at any given time up to this point. This is curious, given that Joaquín is plying his trade as a more defensive-minded midfielder in a central quartet despite being a natural centre-back. One would assume it would be advantageous to deploy Anuar in this position from the very start and perhaps replace him with Joaquín in the closing stages of the match. The final substitution came in stoppage time as Waldo switched places with Óscar Plano who received a warm ovation for his efforts.

With this win, Real Valladolid finish Round 10 in ninth place with a trip to Camp Nou looming as they tackle Barcelona on Tuesday evening.

REAL VALLADOLID (4-4-2): Jordi Masip; Nacho, Mohammed Salisu, Kiko Olivas, Javi Moyano (Capt.), Toni Villa (Jorge De Frutos 69’), Míchel, Joaquín, Óscar Plano (Waldo 91’), Enes Ünal (Anuar 79’), Sergi Guardiola.

Substitutes unused: Andriy Lunin; Fede Barba, Antoñito, Pablo Hervías.

EIBAR (4-3-3): Marko Dmitrovic; José Ángel ‘Cote’, Anaitz Arbilla, Paulo Oliviera, Álvaro Tejero (Sergi Enrich 46’), Edu Expósito, Pape Diop, Gonzalo Escalante (Capt.), Fabián Orellana, Quique (Kike García 60’), Pedro León.

Substitutes unused: Yoel; Pedro Bigas, Sergio Álvarez, Takeshi Inui, Pablo De Blasis.

Referee: José Luis Munuera Montero

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