Pucela toppled by Sevilla for second loss in a row
LA LIGA SANTANDER ROUND 14
ESTADIO JOSÉ ZORRILLA, VALLADOLID, SPAIN
REAL VALLADOLID 0
Éver Banega (Pen) 13’
(Lucas Ocampos S/O 92’)
A controversial penalty from Éver Banega gave Sevilla a win at the José Zorrilla in a physical, bad-tempered encounter that saw Lucas Ocampos sent off in stoppage time for the visitors.
Returning from the international break, Sergio’s side were looking to put the 3-0 drubbing at Deportivo Álaves behind them but faced a stern test from one of the top sides in the league. There were several changes in the Pucela starting eleven; Nacho returned at left-back following his injury sustained against Real Mallorca which saw him miss the loss in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Óscar Plano switched to the left flank in place of Toni Villa who dropped to the bench, Pablo Hervías made just his second start of the campaign and Sandro partnered Sergi Guardiola up front.
The Andalusians came into this match without a loss since early October and had tasted defeat just once in their last ten outings in all competitions. The only personnel changes to their line-up from the derby triumph at rivals Real Betis prior to the break came on the left of midfield as Óliver Torres started on the bench. Banega took his place and Joan Jordán filled in on the right of the midfield trio.
The match started at a frenetic pace, in damp and cold conditions, as winter began to take its grip on Castille y León. Both sides looked set to attack and – with less than ten minutes on the clock – the hosts fashioned the opening opportunity. A right-footed in-swinging corner from Míchel was met by the head of Javi Moyano in the box, but the captain could only guide his header over Tomáš Vaclík’s bar.
The game was to reach boiling point just two minutes later when referee Eduardo Prieto awarded a penalty to the visitors following Moyano’s strong challenge on Nolito in the box as the Sevilla forward pulled the trigger from close range. Banega stepped forward and struck the resulting spot-kick but Jordi Masip got down to his right and saved it. As the goalkeeper – and, indeed, the vast majority of those inside the José Zorrilla – celebrated, the referee called for a retake as a VAR check had shown Masip to be forward from his line when the Argentine struck the ball. With a coolness matched only by the chill in the stadium, Banega slammed home his second effort high to Masip’s left corner to edge the Andalusians in front.
Lucas Ocampos, a summer capture from Marseille, tussled with Nacho in what was to be the first of a running battle between the two for the duration of the match. The forward felt he had been impeded by the diminutive left-back in the box, with the home player taking exception to the ease with which his opponent had gone down. Angry words were exchanged between the two, which escalated to some pushing before both were shown yellow cards.
Hervías took advantage of a rare start and showed flashes of skill down the right side, reminiscent of the promotion campaign of 2017/18 when his flare on the flank helped propel Real Valladolid back to the Primera. After receiving a short freekick from Míchel, he cleverly nutmegged Jordán before whipping in a cross from the right which was turned behind for a corner by Fernando. From the resulting corner, the two combined again to good effect and the little winger was able to send in another tempting ball but no-one in a purple and white shirt could make a connection.
Buoyed by his first goal in over two years against Real Mallorca in Round 12, Sandro almost grabbed his second in three matches but was denied by the woodwork. Another cross from the right by Hervías took a touch off the head of visiting defender Diego Carlos and fell into the striker’s path, who attempted a half-volley from a tight angle under pressure from Sevilla captain Jesús Navas. The shot went into the ground and bounced up, clipping the underside of the bar with Vaclík beaten before spinning upwards and eventually going out for a corner.
Moments before halftime, Sevilla should have doubled their advantage. Banega’s incisive pass spilt the Pucela centre backs and bypassed Luuk de Jong, ending up with Nolito instead. The forward bore down on goal but attempted a deft chip past Masip which lacked any real conviction and the home goalkeeper looked surprised to have been let off the hook so easily. As it were, however, Banega’s penalty separated the sides as they headed in for the break.
Real Valladolid were the brighter of the sides in the opening quarter of an hour of the restart. Hervías tried to replicate his long-range goal against Osasuna in Round 4, firing his long range freekick from a similar distance at Vaclík but the Czech was able to push it over the bar.
Ten minutes later, they almost capitalised on an error in midfield from the Andalusians, when Óscar Plano pounced on an errant pass and stormed down the left-hand side before cutting the ball back to the edge of the box where Míchel was arriving. The midfielder hit a first-time shot with his left foot, but the ball whizzed harmlessly past Vaclík’s near post.
As the clock ticked past the hour, Pucela again signalled their intent to equalise. Nacho drove forward and laid a long diagonal pass in front of Sergi Guardiola. The striker used all of his pace to chase it down and managed to get the slightest of touches, but he was thwarted by the advancing Vaclík who blocked the effort.
In what was perhaps a surprising move, Sergio made Hervías his first substitution of the night, replacing him with Toni Villa who took up the left-wing position, while Óscar Plano transferred over to the right in Hervías’ absence. It was not to be Plano’s last adjustment of the match, he then moved to support Guardiola as a second striker when Jorge De Frutos was introduced in place of Sandro on 77 minutes and later dropped back in support of the striking partnership as Enes Ünal came on for Mohammed Salisu to bolster the attacking options in the 84th minute.
Try as they might though, Pucela were unable to find the telling breakthrough. The last incident of the match came in the 92nd minute when Nacho shielded the ball from Ocampos and the left-back felt the contact and went over. As the referee blew for a foul on the Sevilla forward, Ocampos lost all composure and went to kick the ball away but thought better of, turning instead to remonstrate with the official. His vitriol and posturing earned him his second booking of the night and Sevilla saw out the final few moments of the match a man light but escaped with the three points.
There was no shame in the performance put forward by the blanquivioletas, but – yet again – they were undone by a lack of cutting edge in the final third and the failure to score for a second consecutive match is indicative of their most pressing problem. It is rare to see Real Valladolid involved in such a scrappy and terse affair, but they can take heart from their ability to stand toe-to-toe with one of La Liga’s premier sides and tough it out in an old-fashioned slugging match.
REAL VALLADOLID (4-4-2): Jordi Masip; Nacho, Mohammed Salisu (Enes Ünal 84’), Kiko Olivas, Javi Moyano (Capt.), Óscar Plano, Fede San Emeterio, Míchel, Pablo Hervías (Toni Villa 63’), Sergi Guardiola, Sandro (Jorge De Frutos 77’).
Substitutes unused: Andriy Lunin; Pedro Porro, Rubén Alcaraz, Waldo.
SEVILLA (4-3-3): Tomáš Vaclík; Sergio Reguilón, Diego Carlos, Jules Koundé, Jesús Navas (Capt.) (Nemanja Gudelj 89’), Éver Banega (Franco Vázquez 75’), Fernando, Joan Jordán, Nolito (Óliver Torres 67’), Luuk de Jong, Lucas Ocampos.
Substitutes unused: Bono; Sergio Escudero, Munir El Haddadi, Javier Hernández.
Referee: Eduardo Prieto