Martyred by penalties

Vila-real is a place where Girona can easily lose. Because of the budget, because of the quality of their players, yesterday was a day to suffer and Girona did it. Rather, he knew how to do it. The team resisted for ninety-nine minutes the many raids and attempts of Yeremy Pino, Baena, Gerard Moreno and company thanks to a stellar Gazzaniga who was the white-and-red hero until the last breath. The Argentinian goalkeeper made decisive interventions throughout the match and even stopped a Gerard Moreno penalty (m.94). He could do nothing, however, against Del Cerro Grande’s mad desire to whistle penalties against Girona. The Madrid player, will die like few, whistled three. One, the VAR took him out of the area but meant the expulsion of Bueno; the second, from Romeu to Pau Torres, was already stopped by Gazzaniga in Gerard Moreno. In the ninety-ninth minute, with time running out, Del Cerro saw another from Juanpe to Pau Torres. Parejo, this time, beat the Argentinian goalkeeper to certify the defeat of Girona, who could not even serve as a center and went to the dressing room frustrated and angry for having lost a point in the last second. All the defensive effort, multiplied by the expulsion of Bueno (m.75), went to waste in the last action of the game after a clear foul on Bernardo before the corner. A penalty, Juanpe’s to Pau Torres, which possibly was, like Romeu’s earlier, but which confirmed that Girona had to fight against more elements than just the quality of Villarreal’s players. The defeat ends the streak of seven days without losing for Míchel’s team, who yesterday, without the ability to offer a game as virtuous as usual, taught a virtue that is also very necessary in football, such as the ability to know how to suffer and resist. There were a few seconds left and also the will to be the protagonist of the referee.

The Girona players after a defensive action yesterday at La Ceràmica. | D. CASTELLÓ/EFE

Gazzaniga was the main protagonist of a match in which Villarreal subdued and made Girona feel most uncomfortable, as had not happened for a long time. Míchel’s men entered the game thick and before two minutes Bueno had already seen the yellow card for bringing down Gerard Moreno when he planted himself in the area. Between the initial empanada and the absence of David López, replaced yesterday by Bernardo, Girona were not as reliable or forceful at the back. Villarreal’s pressure suffocated the Girona players, who had a hard time with God and it helps to come out with the ball under control. Villarreal’s avalanche of play would not stop and Gazzaniga’s recital would begin here. The Argentinian would have to stretch bravely to deflect a very ill-intentioned cross from Baena into the corner. Earlier, Yeremy Pino had sent the ball to the post in the first shot. The goalkeeper on loan from Fulham would be decisive again with a stratospheric save still in the first half and confirmed his role as the undisputed starter after having started the course as a substitute for Juan Carlos.

The Villarreal players celebrate the victory with Del Cerro Grande in the foreground.

Girona had to pull out their umbrella to stop the onslaught of Castellon’s attack. When it wasn’t Yeremy Pino, it was Baena and when it wasn’t, Gerard Moreno or Capoue entering in the middle. However, Míchel’s men showed their claws in the few arrivals they had and Stuani could have made it 0-1 alone against Reina. Not long before, Gazzaniga had landed another incredible hand off a Mandi headbutt.

That the first half ended with zero to zero was thanks to a Gazzaniga who kept Girona alive. Offensively, the team suffered and barely gave any signs of life when Riquelme or Toni Villa came into contact with the ball. In the restart, Gazzaniga would not take off his superhero costume and would continue to make life miserable for the home strikers with a good save from Capoue in a shot from the front.

Míchel tried to shake up the game a little with the introduction of Castellanos and Yangel Herrera, who had the mission of advancing the line of pressure and having more of the ball. Nothing. It didn’t work. The end of the match was approaching and Del Cerro Grande began his private recital. First, the VAR disallowed Bueno’s foul from outside the area, which earned him a second yellow card and expulsion. With ten men, Girona took out as much water as they could. In the fourth minute of the six added time, the referee whistled Romeu’s penalty to Pau Torres. Gazzaniga stopped Gerard Moreno’s shot to definitely become the main protagonist of the match. It wouldn’t be like that because Del Cerro saw another Juanpe penalty in the 98th minute which Parejo converted in the 101st. A script too cruel for a Girona who died on the shore after a lot of rowing.


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