Celta flies to European soil

Carlos Carvalhal’s Celta knows no limits, after going five games without losing. The victory obtained yesterday in Cornellá (1-3) places them four points from sixth place, waiting for what Villarreal does this afternoon in Pamplona. From fighting to avoid relegation, the sky-blue team goes to the league break with options to qualify for one of the European competitions.

Those of Carvalhal are unstoppable at the moment. Yesterday they surprised Espanyol at an RCDE Stadium where they had not won in the League since 2016. The game was half resolved before the break with goals from Gabri Veiga and Iago Aspas, from a penalty.

The blue and whites reacted in the second half and before game time Joselu missed a very clear chance to put his team in the fight for the three points. But the excellent and new teammate of Aspas in the national team sent the ball away with an empty goal and paved the way for Celta not to suffer great stress. In the final stretch, Carles Pérez signed the third goal, and his first in LaLiga with the light blue, while Gragera, on the rebound, made up a score that left the Blue and Whites in a very compromising situation, one point from relegation.

Quite the opposite of what happens to Celta, who in the last five days have given an impressive acceleration to escape from hell. Those of Carvalhal have added 11 of the last 15 points played. It doesn’t matter which opponent they face: they tied at home to Real Sociedad and Osasuna, they beat Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano in Balaídos, while yesterday they beat Espanyol with the same solvency that they have been showing since the arrival of the Portuguese coach.

The Celtics knew how to adapt to the different situations that arose in the game: they were lethal when they dominated possession in the first half, they knew how to sacrifice themselves in defensive tasks when Espanyol pressed and they sentenced with a choral play when the rival pushed the most.

The team from Vigo has the virtue of showing up to matches knowing how to respond to the difficulties that arise in the ninety minutes. In addition, it has players who make a difference, such as Iago Aspas or Gabri Veiga, as well as keeping teammates such as Fran Beltrán, Carles Pérez, Joseph Aidoo, Unai Núñez or Hugo Mallo in a highly competitive state. Even Iván Villar, who was questioned when Marchesín was injured, raised his unbeaten record to 440 minutes yesterday, surpassing the marks of Rubén Blanco and José Manuel Pinto, although far from Yoel Rodríguez’s (584 minutes).

To face the duel in Cornellá against a rival who added a draw in Vigo in the league debut and emerged unscathed from the cup tie, Carvalhal opted for the same eleven that beat Rayo Vallecano, with the only novelty being Hugo Mallo for Kevin Vázquez. The captain returned to eleven after serving a penalty.

Opposite, Diego Martínez from Vigo joined the exceltic Denis Suárez with Darder in the center of the Spanish field. However, the Celtics took possession of the ball at the start because they also hit the pressure after loss. Thus, Aspas finished off off-heel after a foul executed by Gabri Veiga. The fashionable player in Spain and in Europe opened the scoring with an inside shot to Pacheco’s long post after a pass with little pressure from Carles Pérez. Celta took the lead on the scoreboard after hitting their first shot between the three sticks. Impossible to be more efficient, against Espanyol who couldn’t find space to supply Joselu and Braithwaite with balls, one of the best attacking pairs in the championship. But it is that this Celta is not only lethal in attack, but also hardly concedes chances to rivals with the commitment and organization that Carvalhal and his collaborators have provided to the sky-blue team.

Denis Suárez, who found himself outmatched by his former teammates in midfield, appeared in the area to finish loosely with his left foot. The many months of inactivity weigh on the Salcedense and Diego Martínez withdrew him from the field when he felt better with the ball. The Espanyol coach was looking for a boost for a team that was surprised by another blow from Celta before the break. Seferovic put a ball behind the blue and white center back for Carles Pérez. The Catalan made wonderful control to face the rival goalkeeper but was brought down in the box by Cabrera. The penalty was converted by Aspas – the moañés has 12 goals, who already leads the Zarra Trophy – deceiving Pacheco.

Espanol tried to make the 0-2 scoreline in the first half not seem decisive after the break, although Luca de la Torre was about to score the third. The Californian’s shot on goal was deflected by a defender for a corner, from which Seferovic’s chance arose at the far post that the Swiss sent high.

After those lost chances, Celta had to make sacrifices in defense to stop a Espanyol team that was able to change the game in the 59th minute. Galán got tangled up in the area and gave the ball to Rubén Sánchez, who crossed to the far post. Joselu appeared there, who won the position from his marker. The exceltic, however, threw the ball wide when the perica fans were preparing to sing the goal of hope.

Celta took up the serious warning and intensified their work on the bilge and to avoid mistakes that would condemn them to an uncertain end to the game. Carvalhal contributed with the changes to dilute Espanyol’s attempts to prevent three precious points from Cornellá from escaping. Rubén Sánchez responded to Unai Núñez’s weak header with another shot that Iván Villar neutralized without problems.

In the final stretch, Celta starred in a choral play started by an immense Beltrán, with Aspas and Cervi. The Argentinian gave a pass back from the baseline so that Carles Pérez controlled the ball with his chest and finished off with his left foot to beat Pacheco and celebrate his first goal in the League with Celta. In the 86th minute, Gragera took advantage of a rebound after a corner to beat Iván Villar. With the 1-3 Celta closed another excellent performance with which they fly to Europe.



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