Getafe boost European claims

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


“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


“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


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


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


“Maybe he (Mancini) is lucky they are only 12 points


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


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


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


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


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