Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Spain January 2016

 Two matches in the Canary Islands, one on Gran Canaria and one on Tenerife.

Wacky Wakaso.

13th January 2016  Las Palmas 3 Eibar 2  Copa del Rey   13,588

Gran Canaria is the largest of the Canary Islands and it plays host to Spanish top level team Las Palmas.

One might wonder how things could have developed here in the Atlantic some 100 km off the coast of Africa.
Perhaps if the Mauritanians had still been in control would these ‘Fortunate’ islands, be the attraction they have become ?

But the Portuguese, Christopher Columbus and later the Spanish made their mark and they are now a popular winter holiday destination.
Some of the populace made their way, on a cool evening, to the spacious Estadio Gran Canaria to see LP complete a 6-4 aggregate Cup win against tiny Eibar.

The first leg had seen two Eibar players dismissed and Las Palmas come back to win and have the advantage for this second edition.

The match began slowly before sparking into life when Brazilian Willian produced two great strikes, the second hitting the bar.

Then we had a moment of farce as Eibar goalie Irureta became stranded outside his area and when you have multi-ball employed he was clearly in trouble after Wakaso gathered a ball and took a quick throw-in.
That resulted in a melee near goal and defender Junca, under pressure, diverted the ball into his own net.

So Las Palmas, who had pressed for most of the half, went in a goal up.

Eibar had offered little in attack but that soon changed after the interval.
Firstly a free kick was glanced in by Ekiza (although he could have been offside ?) before Sergi Enrich had space and time to prod in a second straight after.

Within eight minutes of the restart the visitors were ahead on the night and level on aggregate.
But it didn’t stay that way for long.

Wakaso Mubarak is a local hero and he provided the cross for Momo to make it 2-2 and restore the home teams’ overall advantage.
The Ghanaian is clearly admired for his infectious enthusiasm and relentless effort despite the odd misstep. Chants went up whenever he excelled.

We then had a lull and period of consolidation by LP before they secured the win when a long high left wing cross was mishandled by the hapless Irureta allowing captain David Garcia any easy finish.

So the Islanders progressed to the last eight of the Spanish Cup where they will meet Gary Neville’s Valencia.

Post game I strolled round to get the local bus back to my hotel near the port area.

Nearby you could sit outside and enjoy a nightcap which you could do back home but frostbite might ensue.

The next day I was up early to get the ferry, taking some 2.5 hours,  across to another of the islands - Tenerife.

Where the locals were joined by a few thousands day trippers from the cruise liners docked in the harbour.
They soon made their way up past the Plaza Espana to the Calle del Castillo, as did your correspondent.
Further on is the Rambla de Santa Cruz and the very pleasant Parque Garcia Sanabria.

The cafe next the park makes a fine location for ‘chilling’ and admiring the plants and trees.

Later on a visit to the Casa de Colon might be in order.
It was once occupied by Christopher Columbus who stopped off (for a Macdonalds’ ?)
during one his voyages.
The house is now a fine museum that highlights the strategic position of these islands and their interesting place in history.

Athletic woe.

16th January  Tenerife 2 Bilbao Athletic 0  Segunda   8,333

Back to the football..
Walk along the tree-lined Rambla and you get to the Estadio Heliodoro Rodriguez Lopez, the two-tier home of the local side.

Tenerife are just below halfway in the second division whilst the Bilbao ‘B’ team are bottom and without an away victory.

The initial stages were all about Honduran striker Anthony Lozano and in particular his heading ability.
With Tenerife doing most of the pressing he was given a great chance to score but fluffed the first opportunity.
However he redeemed himself on 25 minutes, rising highest to nod over the poorly positioned away goalie.

The clincher came just before the break when left back Saul delivered a driven cross that was diverted into his own net by Yeray Alvarez.

Athletic themselves had shown limited threats although a couple of corners did cause the home side some concern.

In the second half the visitors had much more play as the home side relied on breakaways but the result never really looked in doubt.

And the Athletic cause was certainly not helped when defender Gil was dismissed for holding back sub. Nano as he broke away.
That meant some more visitors’ heads dropped.

Overall you might assess this ‘B’ team, maybe like many others, as having the method and many of the skills but lacking that concentration and consistency of top squads.

Anyway the local fans strolled home happy and I enjoyed a fine meal of hake followed by pork, washed down with some vino tinto in a nice taberna on the Rambla.

The next day I took the bus, about an hour down the coast, to the South airport for the four hour flight home to Gatwick.

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