First Division - Day 36

Las Palmas 0 - Celta 1

Las Palmas: Nacho González (Cicovic 46'); Edu Alonso, Alvaro, Schurrer, Paqui, Jarni; Josico, Ramón (Eloy 67'), Samways (Jorge 46'); Guayre, Orlando. 5-3-2.
Celta: Cavallero; Velasco, Berizzo, Cáceres, Juanfran; Jayo, Giovanella (Doriva 65'); Edu, Mostovoi, Gustavo López (Jesuli 75'); Catanha (Djorovic 89') . 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Las Palmas: Jarni for Angel / Celta: Berizzo, Jayo for Djorovic, Karpin.

0-1. 51. Alvaro (own goal). Deflected Berizzo header into own net after Edu cross.

An own goal by Alvaro early in the second half kept Celta on line for a return to European football next season. With the match played on Saturday night and Villarreal and Málaga breathing down Celta's necks for the last UEFA spot, a victory was vital to keep the momentum going. Víctor Fernández was missing Karpin, who will be out for the rest of the league season after being suspended for three games, and with Vagner on niternational duty, Jayo came in to midfield, with Berizzo preferred to Djorovic in defence. Jarni returned to Sergio Kresic's side after a one match ban. Kresic played his usual game, with five at the back and a packed midfield, looking for their goals from counter-attacks from their rapid forwards. It almost worked when Cavallero was forced to block Guayre's volley early on, but Celta had a chance to go ahead when referee Iturralde González awarded a penalty for a clear push by Jarni on Edu. For once though Gustavo López was off target, and the home side breathed a sigh of relief as his kick hit the post and bounced across the goal. Cavallero saved at Guayre's feet and Schurrer and then Nacho González kept out efforts by Catanha and Edu from close range as the first half came to a close.

There was a surprise in store for Las Palmas fans after the interval, when González and Samways stayed in the dressing room, with Cicovic and Jorge taking their places. Nobody said much about what happened, but it was assumed that the two had been fighting between themselves, and Samways was seen to be clearly distressed in the players' tunnel afterwards. Nerves have been frayed recently at the club due to delays in paying wages, and this was rumoured to have played a part in the incident. Celta took advantage, with Mostovoi hitting the crossbar with a free kick five minutes in to the half, and only a minute later the Vigo side scored, Alvaro redirecting the ball past Cicovic with his head trying to cut out Berizzo's effort from going in. It gave Celta their first victory in Las Palmas in 30 years, and kept them in sixth place. With the bottom three now seven points behind Las Palmas, the Canary Island club are mathematically sure of staying up, subject of course to the various appeals going on against them under the false passport scandal. Assuming nothing comes of that, the club can start to look for finance to get themselves out of the hole they are in, and maybe even hang on to their best players for next season.