Monday, February 09, 2009

Spain & Portugal February 2009

El Kun.

Recreativo 0 Atletico Madrid 3

Weather issues caused flight cancellations and 7 abortive hours at Luton aiport.

Enacting 'Plan B' I eventually left for Spain two days later and drove from Malaga to Huelva for the first of six games in Iberia.

The first half of this one was a Kun Aguero master class - what price for him on this performance ?

He linked up superbly with Diego Forlan to score one himself and make two more for the Uruguyuan.

Recre had no answer.

Though they did miss various chances and should have got at least one consolation.

A good sized crowd of over 17,000 sat mostly in silence , apart from whistling their teams (and the referees) performance.

The stadium is characterised by a very tall main stand and three much smaller , open sides.

And the weather though cooler later thankfully bore no resemblance to the UK.

Somewhat splashy.

Pacos Ferreira 1 Belenenses 1

From Huelva, near the Portuguese border via Faro to just north east of Porto.
It rained , heavily at times, prompting some thoughts of a possible postponent (and bringing Plan C into action)
But despite the surface water the pitch held up well.

A moderate crowd of less than 1000 , including 20 Belenenses fans behind one goal, watched these two lower table teams tend to cancel each other out.

Belenenses scored an early goal through the hard working Saulo after a move down the left.

But Pacos equalised when Cristiano shot in decisively left footed .

The weather , thankfully, improved later on but neither side got too close to securing a winner.


Spain 2 England 0

A well filled and atmospheric Sevilla stadium saw England get a status report against the European champions.

The report card showed that we are not a top level team (yet).

We passed it around but Spain did it better.

And not many English forwards (Rooney ?) would have taken the first goal as well as David Villa.

The second half began with too many changes by England (a la Eriksson) surely meaning it would be harder to assess individuals perfomance within the system.
Better to make a few changes and adjust accordingly.

Beckham got his 108th cap, equalling Bobby Moore, and showed his fitness and re-confirmed that despite the obvious off-field distractions he can still do 'a job'.

Spain have never lost at the Sanchez Pizjuan and they still havn't.

Late Action.

Real Murcia 2 Real Sociedad 0 in the Segunda.

Murcia is a medium sized city with an impressive newish stadium (the Nueva Condomina)
Real have a good sized following considering they are not particularly well placed in the Segunda division.
Over 14,000 endured some windy weather in the stadium or more pleasant conditions in the nearby (equally impressive) shopping centre.

Relegated Sociedad were better placed in the league.

After an even first half the action warmed up later in the second as two defenders, one from each side, got sent off.
Then in the last few minutes sub. Sikora firstly set up Mejia then scored himself to send the crowd home happy.
I took some time to get out of the car park and further time trying to find my way back to my Murcia hotel - not atypical.

That was on Saturday and on the Sunday I drove back to Andalucia to watch two games on the Sunday.

One is enough.

Roquetas 1 Guadalajara 0 Segunda B Group 4

Not the most salubrious part of Andalucia.

Two stands , one larger covered , one smaller and uncovered with a track around made up the stadium. Plenty of room for the 200 or so who watched this third level encounter played at 11.30 am.
An early goal was enough for the home side to get the win. Otherwise it was fairly even with Guadalajara unable to break down the Roquetas defence.

Not too far away is Almeria.

9 man triumph.

Almeria 3 Real Valladolid 2

The best game by far.

15,000 saw a famous win for the home team in the Mediterreanean Games stadium.

A typically small group of away fans were placed in a segment behind the goal.

Valladolid had started well , scoring from an impressive Pedro Leon free kick and consolidating the lead when Goitom had an easy job of knocking in a cross. So far so good for Real V.

But Almeria have a good home record and they scored three second half goals and had two men sent off.
Firstly Crusat converted a Kalu Uche cross.
Then Bruno is (rather harshly) sent off for a late tackle.

Again Crusat combines with Kalu Uche for the Nigerian to head home at the far post.

But the game ends for Uche as he gets a red for fending off an opponent.

Immediately after this the nine men get the winner as a defensive mix up, with Justo Villar way out of goal, allows top scorer Negredo to lob it in to an empty net.

Valladolid have a defender sent off for two yellows and despite some pressure they fail to get an equaliser.

Almeria waste time, more players are booked , but they hold on for a famous win.

more pics at

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