The late, late show earns a point against Elche
Tuesday January 19th, 2021
Estadio José Zorrilla, Valladolid, Spain
REAL VALLADOLID 2
Míchel 71’; Joaquín 89’
(Roque Mesa S/O 90+1')
Josan 9’, 43’
In a match where they paid tribute to the life of former manager Vicente Cantatore, Real Valladolid fought back from two goals down to snatch a vital point against Elche at the José Zorrilla. A double from Josan gave the visitors a commanding lead at half-time, but Sergio’s men dug deep late in the match and overcame the frustration of a VAR-disallowed goal to ensure they would not drop into the relegation zone.
It is difficult to separate joy from abject relief at this result; when a team digs themselves out of a hole to stave off defeat is usually a cause for celebration but – in truth – it is indicative of how hollow the expectations are of this side that a point against a struggling promoted side is something to be cherished. This has perhaps never been more salient a point than at a time when flowers adorned the technical area in respect of the influence of Cantatore, arguably Pucela’s greatest manager, who guided them to European qualification twice during his three tenures at the helm.
One might argue that Sergio Gonzalez was hamstrung by a plethora of absentees to his squad – missing no less than ten first team players through injuries and suspensions – but his ideas seemed as empty as the José Zorrilla stands which bore witness to a lacklustre display from the charges at his disposal.
Real Valladolid had laboured through an extra-time win over Peña Deportiva in the Copa del Rey at the weekend, and Sergio was bereft of options defensively. Javi Sánchez missed out through an injury picked up on Saturday after coming on as a late substitute, and they will be without his services for four weeks as injuries continue to blight his time with the club. Having sustained a serious knee injury, Raúl Carnero underwent surgery on the day of the match and will miss the remainder of the season, joining Kiko Olivas on the long-term absence list. Saidy Janko remained unavailable having not featured since exiting the match against Osasuna in early December and Jawad El Yamiq was withheld after a positive PCR test following the win over Getafe three weeks ago. Bruno González missed the match through suspension, having exceeded the maximum disciplinary points. This defensive crisis meant that Rubén Alcaraz was drafted in from central midfield to deputise as centre-back to protect Jordi Masip’s goal alongside Joaquín, flanked by Luis Pérez and Nacho. In midfield, Kike Pérez played in the middle of Roque Mesa on the right and Fede San Emeterio on the opposite flank, while Jota was withheld as he too had returned a positive PCR test and Waldo was unavailable through injury. Up front, Óscar Plano took up position on the right – a position he has not played since early last season – and Fabián Orellana aligned on the left with Shon Weissman playing the central striker role.
Jorge Almirón’s side were ahead inside ten minutes through Josan who grabbed the first of his two goals after a Real Valladolid half-chance. Weismann latched onto a Plano through-ball and evaded Josema but his heavy touch cost him the opportunity to cut it back to Kike who was arriving in the box and the ball trickled through to Édgar Badia in the Elche goal. From there, the visitors countered and a long ball forward found Lucas Boyé. He played in Johan Mojica, who had just arrived back in LaLiga following a short stint with Atalanta in Italy, and the former Pucela left-back returned the favour. A fortuitous bounce when Boyé was challenged saw Josan collect on the edge of the area, controlling with his right foot and then cutting inside onto his left and firing past Jordi Masip at full stretch.
Weismann was close to fashioning an instant reply, climbing above Elche captain Gonzalo Verdú to divert Luis Pérez’s cross onto the base of Badia’s post, but the danger was hooked away by Josema.
Route 1 football proved to be effective again for Elche as they extended their lead two minutes before halftime. Verdú played forward with accuracy to Josan who had stolen in behind Nacho. The forward gathered it in stride and bore down on goal before showing great composure to slot past Masip.
A shell-shocked Real Valladolid limped into the break with very little in the way of positives to discuss. Shortly before the hour mark, Míchel entered the fray in place of Fede San Emeterio and took over the captaincy from Masip. He was joined by Toni Villa who took over from Kike Pérez.
Five minutes after the substitutions, the most controversial moment came in the wake of Weissman bundling the ball into the net after Plano played it across the face of goal. The Israeli striker went full-stretch to make contact with the ball with ex-Real Valladolid defender Antonio Barragán in close attendance. After initially signalling for the goal to stand, the referee, Jaime Latre, reviewed the footage on the VAR screen and decided that Barragán’s momentum had caused the ball to roll onto Weissman’s hand which was on the ground as the pair slid across the goal-line. The goal was annulled, to the fury of the home club and the protestations boiled over into the stands as physiotherapist Gonzalo Guijarro was dismissed from the technical area by Latre.
Despite the setback, Real Valladolid got back into the match through an eerily similar goal to Josan’s opener. Orellana played across the edge of the box into the feet of Míchel, who controlled with his right and drew the defender out before switching onto his left and beating Badia at his near post.
The comeback was completed with one minute of the regulation 90 left to play. Pucela had won a freekick in a similar position to the one they almost equalised against Valencia in their previous league match, Pablo Hervías, who came on in place of Luis Pérez, drove a difficult delivery into the area and Joaquín rose up to head goalward. Badia got a hand to it but was unable to keep the powerful effort out and Real Valladolid grabbed their salvation and avoided sliding into the bottom three of the table.
There is little time to rest on their laurels, as Friday sees a visit to Levante who they could leapfrog with a win but have not beaten since 2018. They will also have to contend with the suspension of Roque Mesa who earned a straight red card from Latre over comments made to the fourth official in the aftermath of the equaliser as Mesa re-entered the field of play in celebration.
REAL VALLADOLID (4-3-3): Jordi Masip (Capt.), Nacho, Rubén Alcaraz, Joaquín, Luis Pérez (Pablo Hervías 72’), Fede San Emeterio (Míchel 57’), Kike Pérez (Toni Villa 57’), Roque Mesa (Kuki Zalazar 89’), Fabián Orellana, Shon Weissman, Óscar Plano (Sergio Benito 89’).
Subs unused: Roberto; Ignasi Vilarrasa, Oriol Rey, Lucas Freitas.
ELCHE (4-4-2): Édgar Badia; Johan Mojica, Josema (Diego González 74’), Gonzalo Verdú (Capt.), Antonio Barragán, Emiliano Rigoni, Raúl Guti, Jony Álamo (Victor Rodríguez 74’), Josan (Cifu 74’), Pere Milla, Lucas Boyé (John Donald 86’).
Subs unused: Diego Rodríguez; Juan Sánchez Miño, Gerard Barri, José Salinas, Lucu, Nino, Diego Bri.