After last night's disappointment, this Real Madrid Castilla match could come as a good remedy to cure our wounds, as a win --possibly their 10th home win in a row-- tonight would assure the Whites to stay in the second division of the Liga Adelante next season. To do so, they needed to defeat Lugo, a direct opponent ranking right behind them in the table (Castilla was #12 and Lugo #13 before this match).
For the occasion, Alberto Toril could count on first-team players Nacho Fernández and Álvaro Morata, but not on Denis Cheryshev --who was sent off in the last match-- nor Fabinho --yellow card accumulation. Pacheco is still injured and Derik is sick. This time around, Pedro Mosquera found himself on the bench, while Álex Fernández got to be paired up with Casemiro. Because of Fabinho and Denis' absences, Juanfran took the RB position and Jesé the left wing, giving Lucas an opportunity to start on the right wing.
The starting XI included: Tomás Mejías, Juanfran, David Mateos, Nacho Fernández (c), Jorge Casado, Álex Fernández, Casemiro, Borja García, Lucas Vázquez, Jesé and Álvaro Morata.
After Alberto Toril's 100th match as Castilla's coach the last time they played at the Di Stéfano against Murcia, tonight marked Casado's 100th match with Castilla too. Hopefully they would be able to celebrate it with a win as well.
Real Madrid Castilla took the initiative of the game right away. In the 3', Borja García sent a deep timely pass towards Álvaro Morata, whose low cross shot heading towards the right corner of the goal ended up bouncing out on the post. I started having flashbacks from last night and didn't like it.
The only time Lugo got close to our box, Nacho, Juanfran, Álex and Casemiro all combined nicely to stop them well before they could hurt us.
In the 9', Morata saw that the box was too packed and found support in Casemiro who looked up and saw Lucas was unmarked. Lucas then centered, a defender cleared the ball that fell close to Jesé whose shot ended up in corner. It was nonetheless well built.
In the 12', Jesé had an opportunity too, but it went out, followed one minute later by another opportunity by Morata, served in the box by Álex. The following minutes would be a series of fast and well-built one-touch plays, in which even Nacho Fernández would find himself upfront in a position to score.
In the 19', Jorge Casado and Jesé combined on the left wing, after which the player from the Canary Islands went running. He found some support in Borja García, who then passed the ball back to Jesé through a magnificent deep pass between several defenders. Jesé ended the play with a cross shot that went slightly out, unfortunately. Tonight, Borja García was having a great game again.
In the 22', Morata scored after a play that, again, was tremendously well built (It involved a one-two between Lucas and Juanfran, whereby the second captain of the team went flying alongside his wing and centered to Morata). Unfortunately, the referee called the striker offside and the goal was cancelled.
The reward would come a couple of minutes later, when Borja García scored through a long shot. Real Madrid Castilla 1-0 Lugo.
The young midfielder was particularly active today as he would even have another opportunity to score from the distance on a freekick he took in the 32' and on the rebound shot he could take after Morata put the ball back into play.
The first dangerous opportunity for Lugo came in the 33' but Juanfran and Casemiro made an intervention in extremis --the Brazilian hurt himself a little in the process, but quickly recovered.
Lugo would make Tomás Mejías work some more in the next minute but our goal keeper got hold of the ball easily.
We were now 10 minutes before half-time and I could tell there was a little change in dynamics, as Lugo would make their way into our box more and more often and easily. It was also interesting to note that our two wingers exchanged wings --maybe Lucas had suffered one too many hard tackles and they were trying to shake things up to mess with the defenders' plan.
In the 38', on a counterattack, Borja García served Álvaro Morata with a fantastic pass again and the striker's shot ended up in a goal. Real Madrid Castilla 2-0 Lugo.
Building on their dynamics, Lugo increasingly assaulted our box, until they forced Nacho to commit a foul right outside the box --the captain would be booked as a result. On the ensuing direct freekick, Iván Pérez scored Lugo's first goal, reducing Castilla's lead to 2-1 right before heading into the dressing rooms.
As the second half kicked off, the match seemed more balanced. The timely passes and one-touch passes that had made us play so wonderfully at the beginning of the first half weren't working out that smoothly anymore, Jesé, Lucas and Morata were having some miscommunication sometimes, Lugo kept on making our defenders work and more fouls seems to be committed overall.
In the 65', after yet another combination between Morata and Jesé, Jesé was taken down in the box with no reaction from the referee, prompting the crowd to ask him to go "fuera, fuera, fuera". On the following play, Álvaro was called offside again.
In the 66', Quique Setién made Lugo's first sub: Héctor Font off, Iago Díaz on.
In the 70', Tomás did fantastic again, by clearing a powerful shot with his fists and clearing the second shot with his legs while sliding on the ground. On the ensuing counterattack, Juanfran almost scored single-handedly, although his high shot was caught before the line by the GK.
Two minutes later, Alberto Toril made Castilla's first sub: Álex off, Pedro Mosquera on.
In the 75', Borja was on the verge of scoring on a header, but the ball was cleared.
In the 78', Lugo used their second sub: Pita off, Javi Rey on.
In the 84', both teams made subs: Lugo made their last, with Pablo Álvarez off and Diego Tonetto on, while Castilla made their second one, with Lucas leaving the pitch and Quini coming on.
I was becoming a bit nervous that Lugo would end up tying, but it was without counting on Jesé's speed, his dribbling in the box, and Morata's finishing. Three minutes before the end of the match, the two strikers increased the Whites margin: Real Madrid Castilla 3-1 Lugo.
In the 88', Toril made his last sub: Jesé off, Óscar Plano on.
During the extra time, a counterattack left Óscar Díaz facing Tomás Mejías one on one, but the post helped us this time around!
In a match that got increasingly tough, Real Madrid Castilla were able to earn another three points, which assures them to play in the second division next season. Next week, they'll have to play Elche away, which should be a tough match, as Elche is currently ranking #1 --and is assured of being promoted to the first division next season.
Stay tuned, as we will upload pictures and postmatch interviews later today! Update: The pictures are in the slideshow below and the interviews and their translations are in this other post.