La Liga

Getafe boost European claims

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Fri, 01 Mar 2013 22:34:00

Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway paid tribute to his goalkeeper Julian Speroni following the 1-0 victory over Derby at Pride Park.

Yannick Bolasie hit Palace's winner after 13 minutes, but it was Speroni's string of superb saves - culminating in deflecting Conor Sammon's 87th-minute spot-kick on to the crossbar - that eventually earned the Eagles a first away win since November.

"I think he's a wonderful person," said Holloway. "It's not just what he's like with his gloves on; he's a wonderful human being.

"I think he epitomises the club - we're fresh, we're hungry, we want to do it. He's been player of the year three times in a row so he's definitely a fans' favourite, and he was absolutely outstanding.

"It's nice to get that monkey off your back and it took a marvellous save from our goalie - I thought he was inspired.

"That's why he's got his own bar at our ground. To do well you need a really good goalie and he's proved that tonight."

Holloway sympathised with Derby, adding: "They've had a lot of bad luck. They've got a young side who are so enthusiastic and they probably deserved better than they got, but we've got to take that and try and move on.

"We all looked a bit nervous at the end, myself included, because we want it so bad.

"I'm going to enjoy this because we're in with a shout of automatic promotion and that's fantastic for everybody at the club."

Mancini made the observation last weekend as he assessed the state of a title race that subsequently saw victories for both United and Manchester City that maintained the status quo with 11 games remaining.

The City manager's argument is that United, whilst deserving of their top-of-the-table status, were not so superior to his own side they were worthy of such an imposing advantage that surely will be impossible to claw back.

It was an observation Ferguson countered immediately.

"We're dead lucky," said the Scot, with more than a hint of sarcasm.

"We have only been doing it for 25 years. It is a terrible habit.

"Maybe he (Mancini) is lucky they are only 12 points behind."

It was Ferguson in one of his jocular moods, although it did not lead to words of sympathy for old adversary Rafael Benitez over his plight at Chelsea, which the Scot preferred to stay out of.

"I am not getting into that," he said.

Adrian Colunga put Getafe ahead in the 22nd minute and Sergio Escudero doubled the lead in the 61st minute with a heavily deflected free-kick following a handball from Glenn Loovens that earned the Zaragoza defender a second yellow card.

Getafe also finished the match with 10 men as Pedro Leon was booked twice in a minute soon after his side's second goal, but the hosts were largely untroubled in the final half-hour as they earned a third successive win in the league - and a short break.

Coach Luis Garcia had promised his side three days off if they followed up last week's win over Real Mallorca with another three-point haul, and the Getafe players certainly looked keen to make the most of that offer.

Leon and Colunga both tried their luck without success in the early exchanges while Getafe goalkeeper Miguel Moya also played his part with a fine save to turn behind Ruben Rochina's 10th-minute effort.

The opening goal of the game was not long in coming, with Getafe taking the lead through former Zaragoza striker Colunga, who bundled the ball home from close range following a low Leon cross.

That goal separated the teams at the break, although Zaragoza missed two chances to get back on terms just before the interval when Loovens and Helder Postiga failed to hit the target with efforts.

A spate of infringements and bookings contributed to a fractured start to the second half, and it was one of those indiscretions that put Getafe in complete control.

Loovens had already been shown a yellow card in the 50th minute for a foul and he was handed his marching orders 10 minutes later after picking up a second booking for handling the ball 25 yards out.

If that was not bad enough for relegation-battling Zaragoza, Escudero stepped up and, with the aid of a huge deflection off the wall, fired the resulting free-kick past Pablo Alcolea in the visiting goal.

At that point the game looked over but Leon's dismissal soon after, when he was booked for a foul and then a handball in quick succession, meant Zaragoza were handed a lifeline.

However, they could not take advantage as Getafe moved up to eighth spot and to within four points of the Champions League spots.

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