So we won!
Certainly not the prettiest match you’ll ever see, but hey, a derby match often isn’t. I expect Sr. Alvarez will sleep a little easier tonight, at least until the midweek. Anyhow, I saw some stuff I liked, and some stuff I didn’t, but in the end what I liked most was, predictably, a result.
I have to admit I was a little puzzled to see our best non-Navas winger play on his weaker side, but tactically it worked…Perotti v. Jesus Gamez was a mismatch that we exploited all day. And to his credit, Alfaro was solid on the right as well.
Defensively, the first half was all about Palop. He made three fantastic saves (and yes, I’m including the initial save before the Malaga goal) that kept us in the game. Caceres made a commitment error that led to a corner and the Malaga score as Dabo lost his man. Caceres did atone by netting in the 47th minute with a glancing header from a precisely whipped ball from Guarente. The second half we were more consistently solid in front of our aged hero Palop as we played 9-10 men behind the ball and relied on the counter.
As for the offense…well, Negredo decided to play the second half after barking at everyone within range in the first. He challenged for long balls and continued his unlucky streak by putting a beautiful chip off over the helpless keeper and off the right post. My man of the match, though, was Perotti. He was fantastic today–he assisted on the first goal and was all over Jesus Gamez from the beginning of the match through the end, effectively playing against two men.
And so, we got the result we so desperately needed away to a derby opponent without, arguably, our two best players and inarguably, our current goal scoring leader. All in all, a fine, sunshiny day.