The lower ranked teams came good on Thursday, with several keeping alive their hopes of a spot in the last sixteen. The best placed at the end of the first legs though is Sporting Gijón, who beat Eibar 2-0 with second half strikes from Djurdjevic and Manzambi, the first after some sloppy defending by the visitors, and rthe second following a Nacho Méndez assist. Cádiz also won 2-1 against Espanyol, Lekic taking advantage of a poor clearance by keeper Roberto to open the scoring in the first minute. Youngster Puado levelled it after Piatti put him through, but Karim headed in Agra’s cross shortly before the break to give the Andalusians the win. Sevilla had a few problems against second division B side Villanovense as well, and although Muriel and Promes hit the woodwork, the game ended without goals. It could have been worse though had Pajuelo not headed wide for the Extremadura based team with the goal gaping in front of him shortly before the break.Sevilla’s neighbours Betis beat Racing Santander 0-1, but again it was hard work for them. Sergio León got the only goal from the penalty spot after keeper Iván Crespo brought down Inui in the eighth minute, but Jon Ander in particular headed against the post for the 2B side after the restart. And Villarreal were held to a 3-3 draw at Almería, a result which puts more pressure on coach Javier Calleja. All the goals came in the second half, Chema putting the locals in front from the penalty spot after Mario kicked Caballero in the face. An impressive strike from Cazorla, an own goal by Callejón and a third from Samu Chukwueze appeared to have turned things around, but two headed goals by substitute Sekou Gassama in the last five minutes saved a draw for the home side. Elsewhere Celta and Real Sociedad drew 1-1, Sisto and Hjulsager both hitting the post before Iago Aspas opened the scoring after Araujo headed across a corner on the hour mark. Juanmi turned in Elustondo’s cross with two minutes to go though to give the Basques a slight advantage for the second leg, which will take place in the first week of December. (01.11.18)
A good start for Real Madrid’s caretaker coach Santiago Solari, albeit against lower ranked opposition, a 0-4 victory against the North African enclave side Melilla virtually ensuring their place in the next round. By half time they were two up, Benzema turning in Odriozola’s cross and Marco Asensio doing likewise from an assist by Vinicius, who was making his first start for the senior team. The Brazilian youngster hit the bar after the break before Odriozola scrambled in the third, and B team forward Cristo headed the fourth from Odriozola’s centre right at the end. Later in the evening Barcelona had a few problems before eventually winning 0-1 at Cultural Leonesa. Valverde left most of his big names at home and gave a run out to four B team players, but Cillessen had to make several saves before substitute Lenglet headed the only goal from Dembélé’s free kick in injury time.No real scares for top flight teams on the night of Halloween, although Córdoba did take the lead against Getafe when Bruno turned Araujo’s cross into his own net midway through the first half. In the end though the first division side won 1-2, Mata converting a penalty on the stroke of half time after Valentín fouled Bruno in the area, and then netting his second of the evening after Angel set him up in the final minute. Valladolid also won 1-2 at Mallorca, although in this case the visitors were in control throughout, Daniele Verde scoring twice with impressive shots from outside of the area before the break, and Buenacasa heading one back for the islanders from Valcarce’s cross midway through the second half. Meanwhile Alavés and Girona drew 2-2 in a topsy-turvy match, Alcalá’s early headed opener overturned by a Rubén Sobrino header and a strike by Martín after the interval, and Montes saving a draw for the Catalans after Bernardo headed on a long free kick in the sixth minute of time added on. (31.10.18)
The Spanish Cup returned this week, with first division teams entering for the first time this season. As always, the lower ranked qualifiers from the previous rounds were paired against the big clubs playing in Europe, with Barcelona based Sant Andreu, the only surviving side from the regional third division, hosting Atlético Madrid for the second time in five years. The Catalans put up a good fight as well, and although Vitolo set up Gelson on the half hour mark for a 0-1 victory, only the woodwork and keeper Adán prevented them from saving a draw late on. Valencia also struggled against CD Ebro (currently at the bottom of their 2B regional group) in a match which was switched to Zaragoza’s Romareda stadium, Amelibia giving the locals the lead after the break despite having Tiago sent off for a second bookable offence with only half an hour gone. In the end though, two goals from Santi Mina saved the Ches’ blushes.
Second division Lugo also gave Levante a fright, Cristian Herrero giving the Galicians an early lead before Borja Mayoral made it 1-1 with an angled shot soon after the restart. One all-first division tie as well on Tuesday, neighbours Leganés and Rayo Vallecano leaving everything for the second leg after a 2-2 draw. The visitors went two up in the first twenty minutes, Alvaro García beating debutant Lunin and then setting up Alex Alegría for the second. However goals either side of half time by En-Nesyri pegged them back, and only a good save by Dimitrievski prevented Siovas from turning things around near the end. Elsewhere the game between Athletic Bilbao and Huesca has been postponed to a later date, as the San Mamés stadium was apparently booked for a music concert on the same day that the tie was due to take place! (30.10.18)