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Real Valladolid bounce back with victory




Joaquín 40’, Enes Ünal 50’, Sandro 90’+4


The autumnal sun shone down on a breezy José Zorrila on Sunday, bringing with it the perfect tonic for Real Valladolid to cure the headache of the midweek thrashing to Barcelona at Camp Nou. In their most compete performance so far, three different scorers opened their accounts for the season; Joaquín headed Pucela in front during the first half, Enes Ünal added a second after the break from the penalty spot and Sandro netted in stoppage time for his first goal in almost two years.

Lift off! Enes Ünal grabs his first goal of the season to put Real Valladolid 2-0 up. (Image: Real Valladolid)

Sergio reverted to the traditional 4-4-2 shape that has served him well after experimenting with a wing-back formation against Barcelona on Tuesday night. Fede Barba retained his place in the line-up, coming in at left-back for Nacho who exited the match in Catalonia after half an hour and faces two weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. Mohammed Salisu returned to the starting eleven after beginning Tuesday night on the bench. Javi Moyano reprised his familiar role at right-back and Toni Villa was back in at left winger with both having been absent from the squad at Camp Nou. Up front, Enes Ünal partnered Sergi Guardiola.

Real Mallorca coach Vicente Moreno made a formation adjustment and four personnel changes to the side who started the 2-2 draw at Osasuna on Thursday evening. The side lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation to start and, curiously, Fabricio was handed the starting role in goal over Manolo Reina. Juan Sastre was in at right-back with Fran Gámez dropping to the bench. Marc Pedraza came into the starting line-up for Idrissu Baba and played as defensive midfielder in front of the back four. Japanese starlet Takefusa Kubo, on loan from Real Madrid, had been the subject of much speculation over the summer with Real Valladolid looking like the most likely landing spot for him. However, he ended up going to the island side and, in this contest, he made his third start of the season. Ante Budimir filled the lone striker position, searching for his fourth goal of the campaign.

It was Kubo who fashioned the first opportunity of the match with less than five minutes on the clock as the visitors started in spritely fashion. The 18-year-old retained possession on the left flank, keeping a move alive, and slid a pass down to Lago Júnior. The pacy midfielder got down to the bye-line before cutting back an inviting delivery into the box where Sastre had ghosted in but his effort went high over the bar into the north stand.

Fabricio, on loan from Fulham, made his first save in La Liga action since 2016 on the quarter-hour mark. Óscar Plano had been fed the ball by Moyano and he managed to evade Lago Júnior with a neat turn before shooting left-footed at goal, however the debutant was alert and smothered the ball low to his left.

Three minutes later, Lago Júnior – full of energy and inventiveness in the opening exchanges – found Dani Rodríguez on the edge of the home box. He played a clever reverse ball to Budimir as the Croation charged into the penalty area, but the striker pulled his shot disappointingly wide of Jordi Masip’s left post.

Óscar Plano and Toni Villa switched flanks on occasion in an attempt to keep the opponents defence guessing. Moyano combined well with the latter, as a quick give-and-go opened up a chance for the captain to deliver into the box. Óscar Plano was quickest to react but his first-time shot was hit under pressure from Sastre sliding in.

As a team not used to enjoying the bulk of possession, Real Valladolid held onto the ball efficiently as they probed to unlock the visitors compact back four. Their reward came from a set piece when Sergi Guardiola forced a corner. Míchel swung a right-footed delivery deep towards the back post, and it was met by the head of Joaquín who powered between Salva Sevilla and Pedraza to bullet the ball past Fabricio five minutes before the break.

It did not take long for Pucela to double their lead in the second period. A seemingly innocuous goal-kick from Masip was sent long into the visitors’ backline and bounced without being touched. In the panic, central defender Antonio Raillo attempted to alleviate the danger by heading back to Fabricio, but the goalkeeper had advanced off his line and the captain’s touch ricocheted off his chest and spilled onto the floor. Enes Ünal was lurking and, as he and Fabricio both went for the loose ball, the goalkeeper dived at his feet sending the Turkish forward sprawling on the deck. Without hesitation, referee David Medie pointed to the spot. It was Ünal himself, last season’s top scorer for the side, who took the resulting penalty kick and dispatched it with aplomb for his opening goal of the campaign to give Pucela a two-goal cushion.

By now, there was an air of confidence emanating from Sergio’s side and the José Zorrilla faithful signalled their approval. With an hour played, Sergi Guardiola stole possession in midfield and burst forward, then did well to hold the ball up despite the close attention of two Mallorca defenders. He slid it into Óscar Plano’s path but Fabricio redeemed himself for his earlier error by making himself big and getting his left hand to the midfielder’s shot to repel it for a corner.

Sergio brought Rubén Alcaraz into the fray for his first action since the 1-1 draw with Granada in Round 6, with Míchel making way for him in midfield. The hosts continued their onslaught and it almost paid dividends as Ünal linked up well with Toni Villa and sent him on his way down the left side. The diminutive winger stopped and changed his angle to send in a right footed cross which whipped towards the back post. Fabricio came to collect but missed it and Óscar Plano headed wide as he was unsighted by the goalkeeper’s frame and possibly not expecting the ball to find its way to him.

Moreno decided to replace Kubo with Aridai to give Budimir some assistance. It had been a solid performance from the teen who had shown enough to suggest that he will continue to develop during his year’s spell with the club and is definitely a name to track for the future.

Sergi Guardiola made way for Sandro, who was making a return to action following a training-ground knock the day after he had squandered a penalty in the goalless home draw with Atlético in early September.

Real Mallorca threatened to pull a goal back, an inviting ball driven across the face of goal by Lumor was almost connected with by Budimir but he could not quite get a touch to divert it goalward. Moments after this, the left-back again provided a quality pass to the feet of substitute Aleix Febas via a dummy from Budimir, however the resulting shot lacked venom and was gathered cleanly by Masip.

Sergio’s final change was to replace Joaquín who picked up an injury, he was deputised by Antoñito four minutes from the end of regulation time. The right-back had not played since the disappointing away loss at Villarreal and seems to have fallen down the pecking order behind Moyano and Pedro Porro, with right-midfield appearances possibly limited due to the versatility of Óscar Plano to play on both sides, and Joaquín being deployed centrally in midfield.

In the 90th minute, Sandro signalled his intention to break his goalless drought. Some good work on the edge of the box from Toni Villa saw him send the ball out to Alcaraz on the right, whose cross was met by the on-loan striker but he could not guide it on target. Alcaraz tested Fabricio from long-range but the goalkeeper was equal to the task.

Deep into stoppage time, Sandro’s persistence paid off. He gained possession in midfield and strode forward unchallenged before releasing a shot which moved wickedly in the air and outfoxed Fabricio to end his barren run of 23 months without a goal. The relief was palpable as he ran to the technical area to celebrate with his team-mates and coaches, joy etched across his face.

Sandro ends his goal drought in fine fashion to put the hosts up 3-0. (Image: Real Valladolid)

This was the ideal way to end a match that banished the blues from the midweek battering and places sets Real Valladolid up nicely for a trip to Mendizorroza to take on Deportivo Alavés in Saturday’s early kick-off, with the Basques lying 16th in the standings after the latest round of matches.

REAL VALLADOLID (4-4-2): Jordi Masip; Fede Barba, Mohammed Salisu, Kiko Olivas, Javi Moyano (Capt.), Tony Villa, Míchel (Rubén Alcaraz 64’), Joaquín (Antoñito 85’), Óscar Plano, Enes Ünal, Sergi Guardiola (Sandro 72’).

Substitutes unused: Andriy Lunin; Pedro Porro, Jorge De Frutos, Pablo Hervías.

REAL MALLORCA (4-1-4-1): Fabricio; Lumor Agbenyenu, Antonio Raillo (Capt.), Martin Valjent, Juan Sastre, Marc Pedraza (Aleix Febas 61’), Lago Júnior, Salva Sevilla (Abdón Prats 76’), Dani Rodríguez, Takefusa Kubo (Aridai Cabrera 68’), Ante Budimir.

Substitutes unused: Manolo Reina; Fran Gámez, Xisco Campos, Idrissu Baba

Referee: David Medie

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