|First Division - Day 17|
Real Sociedad 1 - Zaragoza 1
Alberto; Fuentes, Corino, Pikabea; López Rekarte, Tayfun,
Aranzábal; Khokhlov; De Paula (Demetradze 55', Collet 75'), De Pedro
(Jauregui 42'); Jankauskas. 3-3-3-1.
Team changes: Real: Jankauskas for Idiakez / Zaragoza: Aguado for Paco.
John Benjamin Toshack returned to San Sebastian to take over struggling Real Sociedad for the third time in his career. Globe trotting Toshack was enticed by outgoing president Luis Uranga to give up his latest adventure at Saint Etienne and take over from Periko Alonso, Real's second manager this season, who resigned a few days ago. It will not be an easy task though, with the club currently lying at the bottom of the first division, and his first job will be to restore morale in a side which has stopped believing in itself. He is also expected to bring in two or three new players, and has already lined up a Brazilian defender he knows from his time at Saint Etienne, Brazilian Luiz Alberto. For this match the Welshman was expected to bring back Loren, who had not played at all this season under the previous two managers. However the veteran defender was not fully fit and in the end Fuentes took his place in a three man central defence, part of the classic Toshack 3-3-3-1 which he used at other clubs. Jankauskas was however the only change to the starting eleven, replacing the suspended Idiakez.
Zaragoza came in to this game on a high after five games without defeat, although Luis Costa was under no illusions knowing that his opponents would be giving their all for the new manager. They only made one change, Aguado coming back in place of the injured Paco in defence. However within fifteen minutes of the start the veteran captain had to leave the field after an unfortunate accident with his own player Rebosio, and Cuartero, the only fit defender left in the squad, come on in his place. Juanele got the ball in the net early on, but much to his disgust referee Medina Cantalejo ruled it out, correctly though, for offside. Toshack appearted frustrated on the touchline, with his players unable to play the quick passing football that the manager demanded of them, and only Tayfun shone in an otherwise disappointing first half hour. Then ten minutes from half time De Pedro put through Jankauskas on the left of goal, and the Lithuanian lifted the ball over the advancing Juanmi to put Real in the lead.
Toshack replaced an unfit De Pedro before half time, and after the break brought on Real's new signing Demetradze for his first appearance. However the player clearly did not understand what the manager wanted of him, and within twenty minutes he was taken off, with Collet, returning from injury, coming on in his place. The home side were looking for a second goal, but Jankauskas failed to capitalize on three clear chances, with Juanmi making a spectacular save from one of his shots. But then they paid the price of wasting their opportunities, with Alberto making a rare mistake letting Toro Acuña's long shot through under his body when he appeared to have it well covered. His frustration was evident as he kicked the goalpost hard, and probably came away with a bruised foot for his troubles. Real's fans still applauded their team off the pitch, and Toshack said in the press conference afterwards that there was still over half a season to go. But the fact remains that they have now gone seven weeks without a win, and they are still propping up the foot of the table, two points adrift of Racing Santander. Zaragoza extend their unbeaten run to six games, and they are now holding down fourteenth place.