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Mir hat-trick embarrasses Pucela in woeful defeat

LaLiga Santander

Matchday 21

Friday January 29th, 2021

Estadio José Zorrilla, Valladolid, Spain


Toni Villa 90+3’


Rafa Mir 37’, 50’, 57’

On a disastrous night at the José Zorrilla, Real Valladolid were humiliated by Huesca – the league’s last-placed side – who earned just their second win all season. A stunning hat-trick by Rafa Mir blew the Blanquivioletas out of the water, who could only reply deep into stoppage time with Toni Villa’s second goal of the season.

The result rounds off a miserable week for Pucela, having been dumped out the Copa del Rey on Tuesday night at the hands of Levante in their own stadium. It also means they have just one win in their last eight league matches and have been unable to separate themselves from the relegation pack. It could have a significant bearing on manager Sergio González’s tenure with the club, casting doubts upon his future in the face of stark criticism from fans and certain sections of the media.

Following on from the cup defeat, Sergio reverted back to the same starting eleven that had drawn 2-2 with their Valencian opponents in Matchday 20 exactly one week earlier, and only Joaquín and Kike Pérez survived the cull in what had been a disappointing showing at home.

However, no-one could have reasonably predicted the extent to which Pucela would capitulate at the hands of a team rooted to the foot of the table. It was nothing short of a debacle. Huesca were on the front foot from the opening moments of the match and Mir, who had pounded the Real Valladolid goal when the sides met at El Alcoráz in October before finally finding a way past Roberto, looked lively inside two minutes. Míchel’s slack pass across the back four intended for Luis Pérez was pounced upon by Javi Galán who slipped the ball to the striker and he bent a shot from just outside the penalty arc which whistled narrowly past Masip’s left post. It was merely a sign of things to come.

As the clock nudged past the quarter-hour mark, Real Valladolid won possession and broke upfield. Kike Pérez burst through the centre with Óscar Plano to his left and Weissman to the right. He took on the shot himself and Álvaro Fernández had to be alert to tip the effort over the bar.

Mir was at it again midway through the first period, Masip denying him at full stretch to gather his header from Mikel Rico’s cross.

It was not all one-way traffic though, and Plano should have done much better when he failed to hit the target with a close-range header. Nacho swung a cross into the box and Weissman met it at the back post, nodding across goal for the on-rushing midfielder but he could only direct it over the bar.

Mir’s personal conquest against the Blanquivioletas bore fruit on 35 minutes as he evaded Luis Pérez and stole in front of Joaquín to head home from Pablo Maffeo’s delivery from the right to give – what was felt at the time – a shock lead.

Real Valladolid were lucky to head into the dressing room at the break just one goal down as the visitors had another opportunity shortly before the whistle. Masip punched clear as Mir bore down on him, with the goalkeeper clattering Joaquín in the process, and the ball fell to Shinji Okazaki. The Japanese striker tried a first-time effort but agonised as it shaved past the frame of the goal.

Sergio adjusted his formation to 4-4-2 at the break, introducing Sergi Guardiola to the action in favour of Óscar Plano who had been largely absent from proceedings. Five minutes into the second period of play and further misery befell the hosts, with Mir at the centre of it again. Maffeo played a rugby-style up-and-under which Mir latched onto and sped between Bruno and Joaquín before rolling the ball past Masip which nestled inside the left post.

Pucela clearly had no answer for the striker’s ferociousness and physicality. Still shell-shocked from conceding the second, Sergio’s strugglers found themselves three down seven minutes later. From a long ball forward, Mir headed on to Daniel Escriche – having just been introduced to the action on 54 minutes in place of Okazaki – and he returned the favour to his strike partner. The rest was too easy for Mir, floating a seemingly effortless finish past Masip to complete his hat-trick.

Sergio made a triple change; Pablo Hervías for Luis Pérez, new signing Kenan Kodro replaced Fabián Orellana and Weissman – much to his visible disgust – made way for Toni Villa. It smacked of desperation and followed a similar pattern of replacements which had little or no impact in previous outings; the names were different but the timings were all too familiar.

Guardiola sent a bouncing shot from the edge of the penalty arc past the Huesca goal as Pucela continued to scrabble for any kind of positivity. Míchel relinquished the captaincy to Masip as he exited, and Oriol Rey entered the match in his place. Passing up the attacking option of Kuki Zalazar to bring on a young, inexperienced defender seemed to sum up the approach to being so far behind. However, the quest for a consolation went on. Kodro stretched to his full extent to connect with Hervías’s delivery to the back post, but could not toe-poke it on target. Guardiola, too, came away empty-handed despite forcing Álvaro into a save. Alcaraz drifted an incisive pass forty yards into the path of the striker who had slipped in between Dimitris Siovas and Jaime Seaone, but he found the goalkeeper wise to his attempted chip and the effort was blocked well.

Hervías tried his luck from a free-kick but, despite the accuracy, his shot lacked venom and was handled comfortably by the ‘keeper.

It took until the 93rd minute for Pucela to make the breakthrough and it came from Toni Villa. Hervías caught Galán in possession on the right flank and stole the ball away from him. He motored down the edge of the field before cutting the ball back to Villa and his shot found its way past Álvaro, but a touch from Seanoe en route certainly aided its progress.

There is little to take in the way of positives from being embarrassed at home by a team bottom of the table and starved of victories, except possible inspiration from their conquerors; the voracious hunger shown by Huesca is what has been missing from Real Valladolid’s play since their return to Primera. Maybe, just maybe, they can replicate a fraction of that in their upcoming clash with Deportivo Alavés. Perhaps this is as bad as it will get, and this humbling will be the catalyst for significant improvement. Perhaps this match will be viewed at the end of the season as a watershed; the motivational turning point that sparked the resurgence and the climb to safety. Whether or not they finish the season under Sergio’s command remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure; some kind of change is needed and it is needed now! Pucela have to start performing at the level they can, and should be operating at, or relegation is a distinct possibility.

REAL VALLADOLID (4-2-3-1): Jordi Masip; Nacho, Bruno, Joaquín, Luis Pérez (Pablo Hervías 62’), Rubén Alcaraz, Míchel (Capt.) (Oriol Rey 76’), Óscar Plano (Sergi Guardiola 45’), Kike Pérez, Fabián Orellana (Kenan Kodro 62’), Shon Weissman (Toni Villa 62’).

Subs unused: Roberto; Ignasi Vilarrasa, Kuki Zalazar, Waldo.

HUESCA (3-5-2): Álvaro Fernández; Gastón Silva, Jorge Pulido (Capt.), Dimitris Siovas, Javi Galán, Jaime Seoane, Idrissa Doumbia (David Ferreiro 75’), Mikel Rico (Borja García 86’), Pablo Maffeo (Pedro López 75’), Rafa Mir (Sergio Gómez 86’), Shinji Okazaki (Daniel Escriche 54’).

Subs unused: Andrés Fernández, Kelechi Nwakali.

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