Hervías returns, scores but Pucela lose late goal
LA LIGA SANTANDER ROUND 4
ESTADIO JOSÉ ZORRILLA, VALLADOLID, SPAIN
REAL VALLADOLID 1
(Pablo Hervías 65’)
(Robert Ibáñez 81’)
After a lengthy absence due to playing their first three matches away from home and an international break, Real Valladolid were finally back within the friendly confines of the José Zorrilla. However, far from being polite house guests, Osasuna made their hosts quite uncomfortable for much of this meeting and some may argue that they were unlucky to leave with nothing more than a point. Substitutes had a major say in the outcome of this match; firstly Pablo Hervías announced his return from an injury lay-off with a bang as he scored an outstanding free kick, then Robert Ibáñez broke the hearts of the home crowd when he bundled in the equaliser with nine minutes left to play.
Sergio González stayed with the same eleven who had started the 2-0 loss at Levante a fortnight ago but welcomed back into the squad Rubén Alcaraz and Sandro who had not featured since limping off in the first match of the season away to Real Betis.
Similarly, Osasuna boss Jagoba Arrasate showed faith in the line-up which held Barcelona to a 2-2 draw at El Sadar in their last outing, with a forward pairing of Ezequiel ‘Chimy’ Ávila and Brandon. Reprising his role on the left flank was dangerous attacking midfielder Roberto Torres, fresh from bagging two goals against the champions.
The visitors have looked no pushovers since their promotion to La Liga at the conclusion of a campaign in the Segunda where they ran away with the title. They came into this match in sixth place, having not yet tasted defeat in the top flight, and signalled their intention to take the game to their opponents. Torres crossed from the right in search of Chimy Ávila, but a touch from Real Valladolid central defender Mohammed Salisu took it out of the path of the diminutive Argentine attacker. However, the ball headed goalward and clipped the bottom of Jordi Masip’s right hand post. As the home defence appeared static, Brandon slid in at the back post but could not make contact. Moments later, Brandon had another chance after cleverly clipping the ball over Kiko Olivas with the back of his foot and, although he did not make a clean shot on goal, Torres was quickest to react and picked up the errant effort before cutting the ball back onto Masip’s other post from an extremely tight angle.
The home goal was living a charmed life and Masip was called into action to deny Brandon as he ran onto the ball and cracked a first-time shot. The goalkeeper blocked the strike and it fell to Chimy Ávila in the middle of the box who attempted a twisting half-volley but was unable to guide it on target.
Real Valladolid offered very little in the way of definitive chances in the first half, labouring to break down a stout Osasuna rear-guard who limited Pucela to no more than speculative efforts on Rubén’s goal. Óscar Plano was the most productive player for the home side in the first period, taking up the right midfield role but often drifting inside to look for a quick pass. However, Arrasate’s side would have been the happier of the two despite the score line being level at the break.
In the second half, Pucela appeared brighter and it was not long before they fashioned their best chance of the match up to that point. Enes Ünal had dropped deep to gather a pass and, from the right flank, he sent in a deep, tantalisingly accurate cross onto the head of Sergi Guardiola who had burst into the box. The forward had stolen in between Osasuna left-back Nacho Vidal and defensive partner Aridane, but he pulled his header wide left of Rubén’s goal.
The turning point for Real Valladolid came shortly after the hour mark, when Waldo made way for Pablo Hervías. The midfielder had not featured this season having picked up an injury during preseason and, if his initial welcome was warm, he was to have the fans on their feet in delirium just two minutes after making his entrance. A renowned dead-ball specialist, Hervías had scored against Osasuna the last time these sides met with a curling free kick on the last day of the regular season at the José Zorrilla in 2018 as his side pipped their opponents for the final playoff spot that year. Standing over the ball, it looked more likely that he would deliver into the box, but Hervías went for goal with a pinpoint strike that evaded Rubén and found the top left corner.
Buoyed by taking the lead, Real Valladolid grew more into the match but were unable to take advantage of this increased confidence and translate it into further goals. Arrasate rolled the dice by bringing on two forwards in search of a goal with quarter of an hour to play; Adrián López replaced Brandon and Rubén García made way for Robert Ibáñez. Chimy Ávila had been a perennial thorn in the side of Sergio’s men and the energetic forward was to play a major role in Osasuna’s equaliser. He lost his marker, Nacho, and ran in behind him to receive a clever through-ball from Ibáñez which he cut back with precision into the path of the substitute and he managed to find the net from close range despite the attention of Kiko Olivas and Salisu in close attendance.
It was a cruel blow for Pucela but no more than Osasuna deserved for their dogged determination throughout the contest. The visitors could well have stolen all three points, had it not been for Masip denying Chimy Ávila one last time in a one-on-one situation as the final moments ebbed away, although there was a hint of handball as the Argentine controlled it prior to getting his shot away.
Sergio’s men must now put this disappointment behind them and compose themselves for a trip to Villarreal. The men in yellow sit in tenth place but have lost just once so far this season and boast the league’s top scorer in Gerard Moreno who has five goals and is on a four-match streak of finding the net.
REAL VALLADOLID: Jordi Masip; Nacho, Mohammed Salisu, Kiko Olivas, Pedro Porro; Waldo (Pablo Hervías 63’), Fede San Emeterio, Míchel (Rubén Alcaraz 63’), Óscar Plano; Sergi Guardiola, Enes Ünal (Sandro 82’).
Substitutes unused: Andriy Lunin; Antoñito, Joaquín.
OSASUNA: Rubén; Purvis Estupiñán, David García, Aridane, Nacho Vidal; Rubén García (Robert Ibáñez 74’), Fran Mérida (Jon Moncayola 85’), Oier (Capt.), Roberto Torres; Ezequiel Ávila, Brandon (Adrián López 74’).
Substitutes unused: Sergio Herrera; Facundo Roncaglia, Raúl Navas.
Image: La Liga / eldesmarque.com