El Centrocampista

TOUGH AT THE TOP – La Segunda review

In an exciting week 22 in Spain’s second division, the top teams encountered tricky tests and some of the lower placed sides gave performances which defied their league positions.

Deportivo La Coruña held on to top spot by the end of the round of matches, but not before Real Valladolid had replaced them overnight. Going into the weekend in second place, Valladolid breifly claimed pole position on Saturday evening when they travelled to the east coast and overcame Alcoyano thanks to a Nauzet penalty.

The next day, Depor survived a scare by eeking past lowly Cartagena at home. The Galicians played the majority of the match with ten men, but goals from Riki and Xisco either side of a Collantes strike for Cartagena (who also had a man sent off) proved just enough. Celta Vigo also endured a nervous afternoon on the road at Girona, but they scraped through the contest thanks to a goal from Tunez on the stroke of halftime.

Hercules came unstuck at home to nineteenth placed Villarreal B. The Yellow Submarine played more like the Yellow Bananaskins, as late goals from Jaume Costa and Lucas Porcas ensured a unlikely slip-up for the men from Alicante. Elche seem to be losing their way of late, and followed up last week’s embarrassment to Gimnastic by losing 2-0 at Cordoba, who jumped a place ahead of them in the standings.

Goals from Javi Hervas and Boja Garcia sealed victory for the Andalusians and consigned Elche to seventh place who finished the game with nine men. Almeria left it late to see off Gimnastic, Aleix’s late winner gave them a 2-1 victory and meant that the Catalans were unable to claim their second consecutive high profile scalp in the league.

Game of the day came in Barcelona at the Mini Estadi as Barcelona B slugged out an exciting contest with Huesca. The Blaugranas were 3-0 up by halftime courtesy of goals from Riverola, Rodri and Femenia, and looked like they might run up a cricket score on the men from Aragon. However, Quique Hernandez’s side found a new gear after the restart and clawed their way back through David Bauza and Tariq. Sadly for Huesca, they fell short of a Liverpool-in-Istanbul style fightback as Rodri’s second goal and an ordering off for the visitors sealed the points for the Catalans.

Recreativo travelled to Murcia and produced a convincing display against the hosts, who were seven points ahead of them going into this fixture. Strikes from Pablo, Bonaque and Aitor gave Alvaro Cervera’s men victory over the ten-man Andalusians. Elsewhere, there was a 3-1 win for Alcorcon over Las Palmas, Guadalajara notched a 1-0 victory over Numancia and Sabadell shut-out Xerez 2-0 to put five points difference between them.

Going into Week 23, none of the top three have huge tests although given the performances of some of the cellar-dwellers this week, nothing is a given. Depor travel to Recre, Valladolid host bottom side Nastic at the Jose Zorrilla to try and keep the pressure on the leaders and Celta welcome Murcia to Bailados who will be looking to bounce back from their drubbing at the hands of Recre.

My pick of the Week 23 fixtures is Almeria hosting Cordoba at the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos. Paco Jemez’s Blanquiverdes trail Lucas Alcaraz’s Andalusians by two points and a win would see them leapfrog their rivals in the playoff picture. Cordoba have only suffered one loss in their last seven games which has seen them keep the heat on the pack looking to hold onto the playoff spots.

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