An other magical night
Third Round in the Copa del Rey in Estadio Balear against Primera Division side RC Celta de Vigo. Xavi Calm couldn’t count on the injured Alfonso and Olaortua, or on Isi and Hugo who tested positive for COVID-19 before the game. The Catalan opted for the 3-5-2 again which worked so well against Getafe, with a few variations. Xavi Ginard, the hero in Calahorra returned in goal, with three centre backs of Delgado, Orfila and Ferrone. The return of Delgado allowed Ignasi to play wingback with Canario on the other flank. Armando played as an attacking midfielder ahead of a double pivot of Cordero and Damián and behind a front two of Dioni and Manel. Celta came at full strength, buoyed by the return of nine played who had been out with coronavirus. Iago Aspas, Brais Méndez and Santi Mina started on the bench.
In the first half the first 15 minutes were dominated by Celta, with the majority of possession but creating little danger. ATB took control gradually with intensity and with 3000 fans behind them in the stands. In the 16th minute came a key move. A training ground routine from a corner saw Canario charge into the box undetected behind Manel to score. The ball struck the bar with power on the way in. The goal gave ATB security and Manuel was freed to dribble and shoot into the hands of the keeper just 15 minutes later. Celta tried hard through Denis but were unable to create solid chances r shots on target. ATB stayed organise and were happy to strike on the counter through Cordero, Damián, and the tireless Canario. The three centre backs imposed themselves on the game with Luca dominating aerially. The teams went into the break at 1-0.
In the second half Celta manager Coudet made four changes, with Fran Beltrán, Brais Méndez, Javi Galán, and Santi Mina all coming on. In the first 15 minutes little happened. In the 64th minute Manel had a Good chance with a header over the bar after a cross from Canario. In the following play, Brais Méndez scored with a good left footed effort after a rebound. A deserved equaliser and Coudet looked to press their advantage bringing on the magician Iago Aspas for the fifth change. But ATB fought back. A corner to the Galicians resulted in a counter led by Canario whose left footed ball found Manel, who volleyed into the top corner. A night to remember for Manel and the rest of the team, 2-1 in the 76th minute. Calm made changes throughout the second half with Armando and Dioni coming off for José Fran and Vini in the 68th minute. In the 80th minute Josep Jaume came on for Luca Ferrone and Manel came off to applause in the 86th for Jesús Álvaro; making his first appearance in three months. The whole team gave everything to defend the lead, the fans encouraging and singing and Estadio Balear exploded when the referee blew for full time. Into the next round.
Atlético Baleares: 1. Ginard, 12. Ferrone (80′ 15. Josep Jaume), 22. Orfila (c), 5. Delgado, 8. Cordero, 6. Armando (68′ 7. José Fran), 21. Petcoff, 10. Canario, 20. Ignasi, 17. Dioni (68′ 9. Vini) and 11. Manel (86′ 3. Jesús Álvaro).
RC Celta de Vigo: 1. Dituro, 2. Hugo Mallo (c), 6. Denis, 7. T. Galhardo (45′ 23. Brais Méndez), 9. Nolito (65′ 10. Iago Aspas), 11. Franco Cervi (45′ 17. Javi Galán), 14. Tapia, 19. J. Fontán (45. 22. Santi Mina), 24. Murillo, 28. Domínguez (45′. 8. Fran Beltrán) and 29. Gabri Veiga.
Referee Melero López (Andalucia).
Booked for ATB: Vinicius.
Booked for Celta: Fran Beltrán.
POST MATCH COMMENTS
“Honestly, I just feel happy for everyone, for everyone who works at the club, the fans, the players. To see these scenes… it’s my best moment as a manager, this happens very few times and you have to enjoy it. You always imagine that you’ll start the game well and that everything will fall into place, we knew they are a quality side, that they’d make it difficult for us, it was a risk that we had to take to press, they got behind us several times but we dealt with it well. The second half was more difficult because they had lots of players forward with the ball, they were passing it round us, but we scored again after they equalised and then we defended like we had to and it all turned out well. We knew that Celta would be very difficult, the draw is what it is, its normal to expect to draw one of the big teams, we knew it would be hard, every play was complicated and it will be what it will be with whoever we draw. We have an important league game Sunday. We have to prepare for every game like it is the last and tomorrow we will be thinking about Sanluqueño which is a key game. The key to the game was the players, they executed the plan well. They were motivated and did well, they are the protagonists here, along with the fans. Our secret weapon is our desire and our fans. They are two important factors, as well as being consistent. I think that we cant think about what we cant control, whatever happens, happens, with the draw and we’ll prepare for the game the best we can. We’re looking forward to the draw and to be able to compete again like today, like against Getafe. Whoever we get we’ll analyse and we will compete – the players will give everything. We talked during the week about this being a special day, we have the advantage of being able to make the fans happy, those who came today enjoyed it, we work for them, and it’s a happy day.
Manel had a great game like all the team, if you don’t then you don’t beat a Primera level team. I don’t want to pick out individual performances but Manel gave us a lot with his two goals, holding up the ball. We know his quality, it might be that he hasn’t had the minutes he deserves this season, we need to have everyone ready when we need them. Every game is different in football. You win and you think the next game will be the same and it’s the opposite. Celta played well against Betis and today they made us work hard in defence, its not that they played badly, but we played well. The dressing room is happy, it’s a day for it. In football there are times that you are sad and when things come of you have to enjoy them. I don’t know if Jordi Roger will go to the draw but if he goes he will bring us luck for sure.”
“I’ve been at the club for four years, when the game was over there were many memories of lost finals, today we saw the fans were happy and we could celebrate. It’s a special day, you don’t beat a Primera team every day. The atmosphere was electric, everyone contributed, when they equalised they helped to lift us up. I’m happy with the two assists – I like to set up goals more than scoring them. I feel that I am helping the team and especially for a player who isn’t playing so much in the team and is playing so well in the cup like Manel. It’s clear that emotionally we are at a good level – it’s not a coincidence we beat Getafe, today we beat another Primera team with players like Iago, Santi Mina and Brais. You have to give credit to this win but the important thing is Sunday because we’re coming on the back of two losses and we want to fight for the title. We all want Madrid or Barca in the draw.”
“Yes, it was a great night and it was a celebration for the fans and for us. I asked Santa for a goal but he was very generous and gave me two. Canario gave two great assists. I think Celta is a great team but we played a great game, over 90 minutes the difference in divisions we clear and we went toe to toe with them. Honestly this season I haven’t been involved a lot but I have the confidence of the manager and of my family to give me all when I do play.”