Photographs: Juan Llavio
It was a controlled performance by Ibiza at the sports complex Mareo. At this renowned factory of footballing talents, Ibiza was able to overcome Sporting B, a team that tried to find form in front of its home crowd. The islanders had other plans though -namely returning to the island with another victory- and they executed these plans to perfection with two expertly taken penalties by both strikers Rodado and Diego Mendoza.
The first chance for Ibiza fell to Raí whose shot stung the gloves of Javi Benítez, Sporting’s goalkeeper. The sky blues were in control for most part of the first half. With four changes made to the starting line-up (Lucas in goal, Grima as the right-back, Kike López on the flank, Pep Caballé in the centre and Raí joining Rodado upfront), Pablo Alfaro’s team was well prepared to take to the pitch at Mareo.
The reserve team of Sporting proved to be a tough opponent, however. As the match went on, Samuel Baños’ side gradually made their advances toward Ibiza’s goal. With twenty minutes played, Lucas Anacker was called into action to punch away a dangerous cross from the right. The loose ball was then delivered once more by Espeso who found Chiki but his header was judged to have taken place from an offside position. It was Sporting B’s best chance of the half which ended in an even stalemate.
Responsible for breaking the deadlock was Ángel Rodado from the penalty spot. The striker converted the spot kick after an attacking move by Ibiza which involved a Raí cross which ended up with Grima in the opposition’s box. His consequent pass brushed the extended arm of Espeso leaving the umpire with no option other than signalling for a penalty. Rodado did not show any nerves and put his side in the lead. Ibiza had 37 minutes to protect and try to extend its lead and did so in expert fashion. With an hour played, it was Kike López whose explosive run towards the opposition’s box was halted when Aizpiri brought the winger down with a reckless challenge. The result was a straight red card for the home side’s defender. Despite this added and numerical advantage, Ibiza did not sit on its laurels and made sure to look to put the game to bed once and for all.
Alfaro looked to his bench and handed Kwasi Sibo with his debut in an Ibiza shirt, coming on for an active Pep Caballé. Next, it was time for Diego Mendoza to replace Rodado who once again had a good game for the sky blues. Ibiza made its final change when Carbia came on for Kike López. Javi Pérez looked to keep up the pressure applied by Ibiza and did so with a shot that troubled Javi Benítez in Shortly after, it was Espeso once more who conceded a second penalty in favour of Ibiza by bringing down Sibo’s powerful run into the box. Diego showed all his class and experience by sending Benítez the wrong way with a finish straight down the middle to put Ibiza two goals up.
Ibiza maintained its concentration and control in the final minutes, just as it did for the majority of this match away from home in Asturias. With another three points in the bag, Ibiza continues to reap the benefits of an intensity packed preseason which has resulted in a string of positive results in the league so far. It’s a positive basis on which to approach the following two weeks which see Ibiza prepare two consecutive home fixtures at Can Misses in its quest to keep its good momentum going.