Elche 1 Celta Vigo 0
Phew! After 320 goalless minutes of frustration Elche’s Carles Gil came off the bench to score a priceless goal five minutes from the end, pulling off a home win that was looking more and more unlikely as this close match progressed. Elche kicked of with a strong-looking side, Manu Herrera back in goal behind the Franjiverdes’ best defence, full backs Suarez and Albacar either side of Botia and Lomban.
Across the middle were Coro, Ruben Perez, Javi Marquez and Fidel, with the big two-pronged strike force of Christian and Manu Moral up front. Considering the unfriendly 10 pm kick off a goodly crowd of 19,907 watched the windswept match, including about 50 lonely souls who had made the long journey south from Vigo.
The first half belonged to Elche, everyone happy that full back, dead-ball specialist and captain Edu Albacar is returned from injury -a priceless penalty was missed in his absence two weeks previously. From his three free kicks early in dangerous positions, two went nowhere but the third thundered off the bar as the Franjiverdes went for it. At the other end a couple of nervous moments saw a low Celta cross missed by everyone ending up in the side netting, plus two minutes later a dangerous free kick whistling just wide with Elche hearts-in-mouths. Just on half time Albacar showed ineffective Fidel how crosses should be delivered, hit hard straight over at head height with Christian’s diving header going just wide – what a pity, as it stayed goalless at half-time.
In the second half the match turned towards the visitors as Elche went off the boil: for Celta Vigo Krohn was everywhere, and from being innocent in the first half when two Celta players were booked,the home side soon caught up and passed the visitors total as Ruben Perez, Javi Marquez and Botia were booked. On the hour a huge cheer went up as the frustrating Fidel went off to be replaced by previously ever-present Carles Gil. Elche still looked shaky and a tremendous free-kick from Rafinha was saved at the second attempt as Herrerea showed how capable he is for Elche in times of crisis. Celta were going for the win and it looked like they would get it as the crowd showed their frustration. We all began to hopefully anticipate yet another point salvaged by a draw (Elche have drawn eight this season).
With just six worrying minutes left Carles Gil burst over the half-way line and slipped the ball to Coro, who returned it inside with interest. The on-loan player from Valencia sped on towards goal, cut inside his marker and to glorious home ecstasy pushed the ball into the corner with the crowd going wild – what a long time we had waited for a home goal in open play, with only 23 scored in 26 games all told. The final minutes slowly ticked away, plus three more agonising ones for stoppages during which both Saurez and Herrera were booked for time-wasting, as Elche clung on for those three priceless points. Cue huge relief and celebration all round, there have been a number of disappointing ends to matches this season at the mighty Martinez Valero.
The win gives Elche 29 fabulous points and 12th place: close opposition results also worked well, so well that the Franjiverdes are now six points clear of third-from-bottom Valladollid, that being the relegation benchmark. Next week Elche are away to unpredictable Espanyol, four points above the men in green – but with their defence playing well, and with an important win, who knows…
Photos Kevin Rendall
Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/42825/
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