Wed, Jan 07, 2015 - Page 19 News List

Cordoba begin year well, Barca start in disarray

AFP and AP, Madrid and CORDOBA, Spain

Cordoba goalkeeper Juan Carlos dives for the ball in their La Liga match against Granada on Monday at the Estadio Nuevo Arcangel in Cordoba, Spain.

Photo: EPA

Forward Nabil Ghilas scored before retiring injured to spark Cordoba to a 2-0 home win over Granada in their La Liga relegation battle on Monday.

Ghilas used one touch to drive Patrick Ekeng’s centered pass off the post and into Granada’s net to open the scoring in the 16th minute.

He then picked out Federico Cartabia’s run for his fellow forward to square the ball to Florin Andone, who tapped it home a minute before halftime to cap a perfect league debut.

“I’m very happy and thankful to coach for the chance to debut,” Andone said. “We believe in ourselves and are very eager to escape from the drop zone. We hope that 2015 will be a successful year.”

Ghilas had to be substituted in the 65th after apparently hurting his left knee.

Promoted Cordoba’s first home win in nine games lifted them above Granada into 18th place, while Joaquin Caparros’ men reached 13 rounds without a win as they fell to 19th, one place above bottom side Elche.

El Grana continued the hapless run of form — including a league-low 10 goals scored — that has left them without a victory since September last year.

To add to their woes, they also lost forward Jhon Cordoba to an apparent leg pull in the first half at the Estadio Nuevo Arcangel.

“This loss hurts a lot,” Fran Rico said. “It takes so much for us to create scoring chances.”

In other Liga news, Barcelona continued their turbulent start to the year as they sacked sports director Andoni Zubizarreta, while assistant Carles Puyol resigned.

The club did not say why they fired Zubizarreta, Barcelona’s goalkeeper from 1986 to 1994 who played 126 times for Spain and who took up the directorial post in 2010. They did not name a replacement.

However, the move came just a day after Barca crashed 1-0 away to Real Sociedad and less than a week after the Court of Arbitration for Sport backed a one-year transfer ban against the Catalan club.

Last year, Zubizarreta, 53, renewed his contract with Barcelona until 2016. Under his watch, Barcelona won La Liga twice — in 2011 and 2013 — as well the UEFA Champions League in 2011.

However, last year they won no major silverware and Zubizarreta had come under fire for what critics said was his failure to effectively strengthen Barcelona’s defence over the summer.

Barca signed Brazilian rightback Douglas Pereira from Sao Paulo in August last year, but he has failed to force his way into the starting lineup.

Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen, signed the same month from Premier League side Arsenal, underwent surgery last month on his right hamstring and will be sidelined for four months.

The club can only sign new players in January next year, after the Switzerland-based court on Dec. 30 dismissed an appeal against the ban FIFA imposed on Barca in April for breaching rules on signing players under 18.

The decision means the Catalan giants cannot buy players during the current transfer window, nor for the summer transfer period before the 2015-2016 season.

During an interview with Spanish TV on Sunday, Zubizarreta suggested that Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, during his former post as a vice president, may have been partly to blame for the ban.

“As the vice president in charge of sports questions who worked with me was Mr Bartomeu, it is he who knows the situation best,” Zubizarreta told Canal+ when asked about the transfer ban before adding that he “assumed responsibility.”

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