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Pucela caught out by 83rd minute curse again in Levante draw

LaLiga Santander

Matchday 20

Friday January 22nd, 2021

Estadi Ciutat de Valencià, Valencia, Spain


Dani Gómez 62’; Roger Martí 83’


Rubén Alcaraz 73’; Óscar Plano 78’

For the third time in four matches between the sides, Real Valladolid conceded to Levante in the 83rd minute to settle for a share of the points in a match that burst into life inside the final half an hour. Dani Gómez had put the visitors ahead shortly after the hour mark, but quick-fire goals from Rubén Alcaraz and Óscar Plano saw Pucela nudge in front. With seven minutes remaining, former Real Valladolid striker Roger Martí’s deflected shot earned a point for the Valencian side.

With only three points separating the teams in the league table coming into this match, and both having drawn 2-2 in their previous matches, it looked a very evenly matched contest on paper. Sergio González was without 11 first-team players as injuries, illness and suspension depleted an already threadbare squad. Fede San Emeterio was the latest casualty – pulling up in training the day before the match – and joined Raúl Carnero, Kiko Olivas, Javi Sánchez, Saidy Janko, Sergi Guardiola, Marcos André and Waldo on the treatment table. Jawad El Yamiq and Jota were recovering from having provided positive Covid-19 tests and Roque Mesa missed the first of two league matches having been dismissed after being substituted off in the final moments of Tuesday night’s comeback against Elche. In came Toni Villa and Míchel, who donned the captain’s armband, while Kike Pérez dropped to the bench.

Levante started the match the brighter of the two sides and it was Jorge De Frutos who registered the first attempt on goal after just 25 seconds. The winger had spent the first half of last season on loan at Real Valladolid from Real Madrid Castilla, but found opportunities limited and joined Rayo Vallecano in the winter transfer window for the remainder of the campaign prior to a permanent move to Levante. He has enjoyed a resurgence in form and led the league in assists with four prior to this match. A handful of minutes later, he was involved in a penalty claim. Roger and club captain José Luis Morales combined, with the latter playing a ball into the box for De Frutos, who controlled the ball with his back to goal and hit the floor under Nacho’s challenge. Despite appeals for a penalty, the referee – José Muñuera – waved play on.

Still inside ten minutes, Real Valladolid launched their own attack down the left flank. Toni Villa played in Shon Weissman who passed to Orellana. The Chilean chipped the ball into the box where Alcaraz, fresh from his cameo at centre-back against Elche, was arriving but he volleyed over the bar.

The tempo of the match dropped until shortly before half-time, with both teams struggling to threaten at either end. Aitor Fernández, was not tested until three minutes before the break. Full-back Luis Pérez crossed in from the right and Orellana’s header was blocked at the near post by the Levante goalkeeper.

Following the restart, each team seemed to have woken up somewhat with attempts on goal within five minutes of the resumption of play. Jordi Masip held an angled shot from Morales, and Alcaraz tried his luck with a half-volley this time but he drove Toni Villa’s cross past the right post.

With a little over an hour played, Los Granota finally made the breakthrough. De Frutos played an instrumental role, collecting possession in his own half and scampering down the right flank, taking advantage of an out-of-position Nacho. Bruno González’s clumsy challenge was seen off by the winger who found himself with room to run. Joaquín pulled across to pressure the cross, but De Frutos slid a delightful ball right into the path of Dani Gómez on the penalty spot. Luis Pérez slipped and the striker made no mistake with his first-time effort, stroking a right-footed shot which evaded Masip and tucked inside the post. Unfortunately for the hosts, the lively De Frutos pulled up injured in the aftermath of the goal and required to be replaced by right-back Son.

Sergio responded by taking Pablo Hervías on for Orellana in his natural right-winger position, and young striker Kuki Zalazar replaced Toni Villa in a 4-4-2 look.

Just ten minutes later, Pucela were back on level terms. A poor pass from Levante midfielder Nemanja Radoja sold compatriot Mickaël Malsa short, allowing Zalazar to rob him of possession, and the ball fell fortuitously to Alcaraz. The midfidler strode forward before unleashing a vicious drive with his left foot from 27 yards past Aitor, crashing the ball off the post and into the net for his first goal of the season.

Real Valladolid turned the game on its head with just over twelve minutes to play, scoring their second goal in five minutes. Alcaraz played a ball over the top into the path of Hervías on the right and he cut into the box. Showing remarkable patience, he kept his composure and laid the ball across the area where it was met by Plano. His left-footed shot took a slight touch off defender Óscar Duarte on its way between Aitor and the goalkeeper’s right-hand post.

However, there was to be heartbreak for the Blanquivioletas when Roger, who spent two separate periods on loan at the José Zorrilla, scored his fifth goal in seven matches against his former side. He collected Radoja’s pass – which evaded Alcaraz – before turning Bruno with a neat first move and firing at goal. In the defender’s desperation to block the shot, Bruno’s touch actually carried the ball past Masip who was in the right position for the initial trajectory, but watched in anguish as the deflection carried it between him and his left-hand post.

With such a selection headache, Real Valladolid did well to earn a point at a venue they have not won at since 2008. They will, in contrast, be disappointed to not have claimed a win as the curse of the 83rd minute struck again.

The sides meet just four days later in Copa del Rey action, with the José Zorrilla hosting the third match between the sides in just under two months.

LEVANTE (4-4-2): Aitor Fernández; Carlos Clerc, Rubén Vezo, Óscar Duarte, Jorge Miramon (Enis Bhardi 84’), José Luis Morales (Rubén Rochina 84’), Mickaël Malsa (Gonzalo Melero 79’), Nemanja Radoja, Jorge De Frutos (Son 64’), Dani Gómez (Sergio León 78’), Roger Martí.

Subs unused: Koke, Dani Cárdenas; Toño, Sergio Postigo, Coke, Giorgi Kochorashvili, Edgar Sevikyan.

REAL VALLADOLID (4-2-3-1): Jordi Masip (Capt.); Nacho, Bruno, Joaquín, Luis Pérez, Rubén Alcaraz, Míchel, Óscar Plano (Kike Pérez 90’), Toni Villa (Kuki Zalazar 63’), Fabián Orellana (Pablo Hervías 63’), Shon Weissman.

Subs unused: Roberto; Ignasi Vilarrasa, Oriol Rey, Lucas Freitas, Sergio Benito.

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