First Division - Day Twenty Six

Zaragoza 2 - Celta 1

Zaragoza: Juanmi; Cuartero, Aguado, Lanna, Pablo; Aragón, Acuña; Juanele, Vellisca, Garitano; Milosevic. 4-2-3-1.
Celta: Pinto; Juanfran, Cáceres, Djorovic, Sergio; Giovanella, Celades; Karpin, Mostovoi, Gustavo López; McCarthy. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Zaragoza: Aguado, Pablo, Aragón, Juanele, Garitano for Paco, Björklund, José Ignacio, Marcos Vales, Radimov / Celta: Juanfran, Giovanella, McCarthy for Velasco, Makelele, Hoogendorp.

0-1. 37. McCarthy. Lifted ball over Aguado and shot first time.
1-1. 52. Acuña. Strong shot after Milosevic touched ball on.
2-1. 72. Milosevic. Header from corner on right by Aragón.

Zaragoza moved back up to second place with a second half fight back against Celta. Txetxu Rojo made five changes to his side, with Paco picking up an injury in the pre-match warm up, and Juanele and Garitano returning. Víctor Fernández, returning to the ground where he won the cup winners cup, had injury worries about Mostovoi and Karpin after their game for Russia midweek, but both played. Makele was not fit however, and Velasco dropped out after picking up an injury in Spain s match in Croatia. Velasco's absence gave Juanfran his chance to return after he cracked his skull just a month and a half ago, and the full back appeared to have made a full and quick recovery, showing the same bad temper that he had before the accident, clashing with Acuña towards the end of the game. McCarthy, back in the side after playing for his country in the pre-Olympic tournament, celebrated his return with a neat goal, lobbing the ball up and over Aguado's head and volleying past Juanmi before the ball hit the ground (known as a 'sombrero' in Spanish). The teams went in at the interval with Celta in the lead, Rojo changing Juanele for Marcos Vales, and it looked as if the one remaining undefeated home record (after Numancia's defeat on Saturday) was in danger. However the home side pulled the chestnuts out of the fire so to speak with two goals in the second half, the first from Acuña after Milosevic had cleverly put him through, and the second from Milosevic himself from a corner. The Yugoslavian striker was very pleased to have scored, as he had gone six games without a goal, and he is now only two behind joint top scorers Salva and Hasselbaink in the 'Pichichi' table. McCarthy missed a chance to level the scores, Giovanella cleared a shot from substitute Jamelli (on for the injured Pablo) off the line near the end, and Juanmi was called upon to save from Karpin in the last minute. Celta drop out of the top six with this defeat, and now have to travel to Juventus for their UEFA cup tie next Thursday. Zaragoza have no such worries, and with seven of their rivals playing in Europe they may be a dark horse for the championship this year.

Numancia 1 - Valencia 2

Numancia: Nuñez; Belsué, Muñiz, Soria, Octavio; Nagore, Pacheta, Castaño, Iñaki; Barbu, Ojeda. 4-4-2.
Valencia: Cañizares; Angloma, Djukic, Pellegrino, Carboni; Farinós, Milla, Mendieta, Gerard; Juan Sánchez, Piojo López. 4-4-2.

Team changes: Numancia: Belsué, Octavio, Iñaki for Jaume, Muñoz, Rivera / Valencia: Angloma, Mendieta, Sánchez for Gerardo, Kily González, Ilie.

0-1. 04. Mendieta. Chipped the keeper from a wide angle on the right.
0-2. 59. Piojo López. Long run from own half and shot past Nuñez.
1-2. 78. Soria. Header from free kick by Nagore.

At long last the eleven months unbeaten home record of newly promoted Numancia has ended, with Valencia finally doing what Barcelona, Real Madrid and Deportivo were unable to, take away three points from the Pajaritos stadium. The result comes as a boost to manager Héctor Cúper, booed by fans last week, and also to the team who have an important Champions League match at Fiorentina next Wednesday. Cúper was without the injured Kily González and Ilie, and Angloma returned at right back. His young reserve goalkeeper Palop also injured a hand badly during the week and could be out for the rest of the season. Valencia's captain Gaizka Mendieta returned to the side after a one match suspension, and played a captain's innings (sorry, wrong sport), opening the scoring in the fourth minute with yet another exhibitionist goal. Mendieta scored the best two goals of the season last year, against Barcelona in the league and Atlético in the cup final, and will be a key player for Spain in this summers Euro 2000 championship. Numancia left spaces at the back as they came forward, and Piojo López took advantage to widen the gap on the hour mark with his first goal since early December. Piojo is expected to get his dual Spanish/Argentian nationality soon, which should increase his market value even further. Goikoetxea brought on Rubén Navarro in place of Iñaki after the goal, the team's top goalscorer reappearing after a long injury. Navarro and Iñaki are both on loan from Valencia this season, as is Soria, who headed Numancia's goal twelve minutes from the end. Shortly before the goal referee Daudén Ibáñez sent off Numancia's Moreau, presumably for something he said whilst warming up on the touchline (the second player in a week shown a red card off the field of play), and Goiko followed him a minute later for the same reason. All in all, Daudén showed eleven yellows and two reds, and he was loudly booed at the end by local fans. With this victory, Valencia climb back to sixth place, with Numancia dropping into the bottom half of the table.

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