Non-FIFA International Friendly
Friday 20 May 2016 – Estadio Municipal de Riazor, A Coruña, Galicia, Spain
Galicia 1-1 Venezuela
Galicia 1-1 Venezuela, 20 May 2016, International Friendly (FutVe Venezuela)
Martínez Gives Dudamel Debut Boost
Josef Martínez’s scrambled goal deep into injury time allowed Rafael Dudamel to avoid what was heading towards a deserved defeat on his debut in the dugout.
For La Vinotinto, with several lesser known faces making their way onto the Riazor pitch, the game largely afforded one last chance to sway the mind of the new entrenador ahead of the Copa América Centenario. Indeed, scarcely three hours after the final whistle, the eight-player cull that reduced the initial 31-man squad to the final 23 included seven unfortunates who featured in this game (see below).
Given the usage of such unfamiliar personnel, the lack of teamwork and coherency on display was to be expected, though their hosts – themselves playing their first game in over seven years – had few comparable problems. Indeed, rivals with ties to Deportivo La Coruña and Celta Vigo united for the local good to ensure their region dominated possession and exhibited the most eye-catching play.
The first moment of note that they created came after just five minutes when a dinked ball to the back post targeted Jota, a forward formerly of Celta who spent last season on loan at Eibar from Brentford, but he struggled to make a meaningful connection.
Ten minutes later, however, Venezuela had their best chance of the half when Huachipato midfielder Rómulo Otero fired a swerving free-kick that goalkeeper Sergio Álvarez tipped over. Not long afterwards, the hosts were back in the ascendancy as local hero Lucas Pérez cut over from the right onto his left and struck just wide of the near post.
The half continued with Galicia having the better of the play, even if chances were often at a premium. After a brief mid-half lull, the hosts stepped up a gear, first unsettling the opposition defence with a low cross that was just about cleared, before making the breakthrough three minutes later. Indeed, with 39 minutes on the clock, Jota’s shot from outside the area was poorly and unnecessarily parried by 18-year-old Wuilker Fariñez. If anything, it looked like the original shot was heading wide, but the Caracas keeper knocked it straight into the path of Iago Aspas who struck it home first time. Subsequently, the ex-Liverpool striker enjoyed the extremely rare experience of being a Celta Vigo player cheered on by a crowd largely consisting of Depor fans. A surreal Friday night for all.
Five minutes into the second half, a second dose of this peculiar phenomenon was nearly delivered, as Aspas burst into the area, evaded a challenge and poked the ball against the post. In the 61st minute, Aspas had another chance, though this time he could only nudge a shot wide, following good work from Pérez who himself came close to doubling the lead 13 minutes later. Indeed, with barely 15 minutes left, the Depor striker received a pass and rounded Fariñez to slot home, but before he could celebrate discovered he was offside.
Alas, despite the evident technical superiority of the hosts, they were to be thwarted by Dudamel’s charges, who had barely mustered a shot on target in the second period. Two minutes into stoppage time, seemingly out of nowhere, substitute Jacobo Kouffati slid forward what appeared at first to be a slightly heavy pass. However, Torino striker Martínez sensed an opportunity and tussled with goalkeeper Diego Mariño, beating him to it and knocking home the loose ball.
It may have only been an unofficial end-of-season friendly, but local pride was certainly dented and the mood was somewhat soured by the outcome. This was palpable in the post-match comments of Granada midfielder Fran Rico, who was eager to emphasise who the superior side had been.
Nevertheless, though certainly not a performance to inspire immediate enthusiasm for the Dudamel reign,given the circumstances, most Vinotinto fans will take it.
Galicia (4-4-2): S. Álvarez (D. Mariño, 46′); H. Mallo, Á. Bergantiños, Jonny (P. Cheikh, 66′), Angeliño; Jota (Joselu, 46′), D. Suárez, F. Rico (J. Domínguez, 46′), P. Mosquera; I. Aspas (D. Alende, 75′) & L. Pérez.
Venezuela (4-4-2): W. Faríñez; V. García (D. Benítez, 86′), W. Ángel, J. Chancellor (S. Velázquez, 66′), M. Villanueva; J. Suárez (A. Ponce, 72′), A. Flores (J. Kouffati, 55′), C. Suárez (Y. Herrera, 66′), R. Otero; J. Martínez & C. Santos (A. Figuera, 55′).
Official Venezuela Squad for Copa América Centenario