Real Zaragoza 1 CD Tenerife 0
By Colin Kirby
RAIN of biblical proportions cascaded down on Tenerife’s setback, the quality of passing making all the difference between the two sides.
Tenerife hit too many aimless balls, while Zaragoza seemed to find their team mates with ease. The only goal, just six minutes into the game, was the end result of some slick passing, with Guti cutting through the Tenerife defence to set up Pombo to score.
Suspensions and injuries ravaged the Tenerife squad, but they put out a strong, balanced line-up, with Suso and Juan Carlos Real taking the wings, and Juan Villar as the central attacker.
Carlos Ruiz was replaced as central defender by Alberto, who didn’t have the best of games. But Aveldano, alongside him, made a well-timed intervention to cut out a Zaragoza raid just after the kick-off.
Iglesias, the main home striker, was like a wild animal… strong, awkward, and brimming over with sly digs and crunching tackles. If only Tenerife could find a striker like that!
Aveldano and Iglesias were the best of enemies from the start, and the home forward hacked Aveldano down twice without any punishment. The Tenerife defender, who fell awkwardly the second time, went off with a shoulder injury after just 15 minutes.
Jorge Saenz was the natural replacement from the bench, with speculation swirling about him making a 3.5m-euro exit during the January transfer window.
But it was good to see him back in action after being ignored completely for the previous game.
Aitor Sanz had a good opening but hit a poor, speculative shot straight at home keeper Alvarez, while Zaragoza were taking a more direct approach at the other end. Febas rode three weak tackles as he threatened to carve out another goal, but the move came to nothing. Tenerife just couldn’t find any rhythm, yet Villar thought he had scored, only for a late offside call to rule it out.
The number of repetitive injuries suffered by the Tenerife squad is a cause for concern, and Villar, who has had a stop-go season, had to be replaced with Malbasic on the half-hour.
Coach Pep Marti was soaked and frustrated, and a booking for comments made to the ref did little to brighten his outlook.
Bryan Acosta made the home keeper squirm just before the break, hitting a long-range free-kick which only just cleared the bar.
Malbasic had his golden chance soon after the restart, Acosta playing the ball out to him on the left. But he rushed his shot and missed the target.
Tenerife were trying to up the pace, and Luis Perez began pushing forward more from his right-back slot with some success.
But it could have got worse because Zaragoza were awarded a penalty for a challenge on Iglesias, whose spot-kick hit the post.
There was another let-off when Ros and Pombo combined. Keeper Dani was stranded on one side of the goal, only for a well-timed, headed clearance from Camille to keep the score down.
Suso was not best pleased when the ref adjudged his goal shot to be offside. It was a much closer call than that of Villar’s and added to the feeling that the ref was blinkered in favour of Zaragoza.
Malbasic, who has been a big let-down since arriving in the summer, was miles offside when a Tenerife three-on-two break came to him, and he was relieved of the ball easily by keeper Alvarez a few minutes later.
The final gamble was Brian Martin on for Suso, and the young striker soon got a chance. But he rushed his shot, which was too weak to make an impact.
On Sunday, Tenerife entertain Barcelona B in the first of successive 7pm home games. But with all the injuries and suspensions, the need for the promised three new recruits is becoming more and more urgent.
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