Real Zaragoza 2-2 Sporting Gijon
A second-half double from Florent Sinama-Pongolle saw 10-man Real Zaragoza come from 2-0 down and rescue a point at home to Sporting Gijon. The result made it six games without a victory for Zaragoza, a record that it is rumoured will cost manager José Aurelio Gay his job in the near future.
Gijon had failed to score in either of their previous away games, but found the breakthrough in bizarre fashion in the 33rd minute. A right wing cross hit Zaragoza defender Ivan Obradovic and deflected towards goal, leaving home keeper Antonio Doblas stranded and giving Gijon the lead. It was a terrible first-half display from Zaragoza, but things got a lot worse soon after the break.
A minute into the second half, Zaragoza’s Jiri Jarosik was dispossessed in his own third by David Barral, and in his attempts to win the ball back brought down Barral, who had advanced into the penalty area. Jarosik, by missing the ball, taking down Barral from behind, and being the last man, gave the referee very little option—he awarded both a penalty and a red card. The resultant penalty was smashed home in emphatic fashion by Diego Jimenez, doubling Gijon’s lead and giving the hosts a seemingly insurmountable task.
Amazingly, the setbacks seemed to bring Zaragoza to life, as Sinama-Pongolle’s strikes in the 56th and 60th minutes produced a stunning comeback. The first was a superb strike, with the French striker receiving the ball from Gabi after a clever passing move and smashing a rocket from the right-hand edge of the box. The strike was simply unstoppable, beating two Gijon defenders and keeper Juan Pablo Colinas and going in off the underside of the crossbar.
The second goal was a counterattack of the highest quality, with three quick passes taking Zaragoza from the edge of their own box to releasing Sinama-Pongolle down their left. The forward produced another finish of the highest quality, taking a couple of touches before firing a left-foot shot hard and low across Colinas and into the far corner.
Zaragoza’s ability to produce two goals of such quality while a man down had every home fan believing an improbable victory may be on the cards, but after an amazing 15 minutes of action, the final half hour was less dramatic, as neither side could find a winner.
The result, coupled with Deportivo’s heavy defeat, actually saw Zaragoza move up to 19th place, but three points from six games is a worrying return at this stage. Gijon moved up to 16th with five points, but both sides look set to struggle based on their opening results.