Numancia edge past Granada (2-1)

The Andalusians, in the promotion zone, defeated at Los Pajaritos after a good performance from the Roijllos

Numancia got back to winning ways, beating Granada 2-1 at Los Pajaritos in a hard-fought and evenly-balanced match that López Garai’s side edged thanks to a very good spell early in the second half.

This victory comes like a balm and serves to soothe both those in the dressing room and those in the stands. The fans saw, once again, a competitive Numancia side, one that squared up to a team who are among the ‘big boys’ of the division, a candidate for direct promotion along with Osasuna, Málaga, Albacete, Deportivo and Mallorca. The last two are still to visit Los Pajaritos where, save for the meeting with Albacete, the Sorianos have performed well against them all.

Numancia went into this game with the fans in the stands doubting them after last week’s debacle in Majadahonda, but the players showed personality, holding on to the ball and initiating play, as they have been doing most of this season. Granada pressed high, though, and made it uncomfortable for their hosts in the first half.

Even still, the Sorianos looked to get close to the visitors’ goal while taking care to stay safe at the back as Granada could be threatening on the break and cause damage down the wings. A good move by Fede Vico who was unable to find someone to finish it off was the most danger the visitors produced in an even first half, while Fran Villalba had the best chance for the hosts on the stroke of half time.

After the break, in a six-minute spell, Numancia almost killed off the game, or at least put things very much their way. In the first minute, a free-kick whipped in by Fran Villalba found Pichu Atienza who steered the ball home. Granada have been almost impenetrable in dead ball situations all season, but yesterday in Soria it was two strategic plays that finished them off.

Now a goal up, Numancia calmed their nerves and offered up the best moments of play, dominating Granada until, in another attacking move in the visitors’ area, the assistant referee saw the ball hit a defender’s hand and flagged for a penalty.

David Rodríguez made no mistake from the spot and made it 2-0. It was now the 52nd minute and there was still a good while to go, but Numancia kept their composure even though López Garai once again was forced to make changes owing to injuries. Higinio, exhausted and bruised, asked to be changed and was replaced by Guillermo. The Basque forward, however, barely lasted 15 minutes on the field. He picked up a muscle injury and had to be replaced, with the game now nearing an end, by Borja Viguera.

Meanwhile, Granada had halved Numancia’s lead with a quarter of an hour to go. Antonio Puertas made it a nervy ending for the 3,000 Numancia faithful when he headed in a good cross from the left wing. This forced the Rojillos to administer their advantage over the final stages, something they did admirably, and they turned the initial jeers and boos into applause by the end of the game, one that has surely served as a confidence booster.

C.D. Numancia: Juan Carlos, Escassi, David (Yeboah, m. 81), Higinio (Guillermo, m. 67 (Viguera, m. 83), Carlos Gutiérrez, Atienza, Gus Ledes, Marc Mateu, Markel, Fran Villalba, Diamanka.

Granada C.F.: Rui Silva, Martínez, Vadillo (Nico Aguirre, m. 71), Fede S., Azeez, F. Vico, Víctor Díaz, Quini, Dani Ojeda (Antonio Puertas, m. 54), Adrián Ramos, A. Castellano. (Pozo, m. 54).

Referee: Ocón Arráiz (Rioja Committee). Assisted by García Sabuco and Ortuño Sierra. Yellow cards for Diamanka and Gus Ledes, Numancia, and the visitors Castellano, Pozo and Nico Aguirre.

Goals: 1-0. M. 46. Pichu Atienza. 2-0. M. 52. David Rodríguez, penalty. 2-1. M. 75. Antonio Puertas.

Los Pajaritos. 3,053.

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