By Alan Feehely.
Sevilla got their season off to a winning start on Sunday evening in Cádiz, winning their first Andalusian derby of the season after going a goal down to their newly-promoted opponents.
Fresh off their defeat to Bayern Munich in the European Super Cup last Thursday, Sevilla travelled to Ramón de Carranza intent on returning to winning ways in La Liga.
They succeeded, but not without difficulty.
Cádiz took the lead just after half time and threatened throughout despite registering just 24.1% of the possession. Sevilla rallied after conceding, however, getting back on level terms just after the hour mark before winning the tie with two late goals.
They’ll be content with their day’s work — it was always going to be difficult to mentally and physically recover from the 120 hard-fought minutes of just a few days earlier, as well as identify with the new character of a changed team.
Two key figures from last season’s success, Éver Banega and Sergio Reguilón, have departed for pastures new, nominally replaced by new signings Ivan Rakitić and Marcos Acuña. Other key performers, including Jules Koundé, Fernando and Joan Jordán, started on the bench, perhaps as a measure to manage their fitness as the new season begins.
The game began competitively. José Mari tried his luck early on with a long-distance effort that tested Bono in the Sevilla goal, while Lucas Ocampos had the ball in the net inside ten minutes only for VAR to rule it out for offside. Cádiz wide player Jorge Pombo responded by showing his threat with a smart volley, but his effort was well dealt with.
A key early chance came after half an hour. Ocampos was once again involved, combining well with Acuña before playing a clipped pass to Óliver Torres, who controlled with a deft touch and shifted his weight onto his left side before striking his shot off the near post. Soon after, the tireless Jesús Navas cut back an intelligent centre only for both Youssef En-Nesyri and Rakitić to fail to direct an attempt on target.
En-Nesyri had another opportunity moments later when Nemanja Gudelj played through an inch-perfect pass to find him clean on goal. The Moroccan forward’s strike flashed just wide of the target, but his blushes were spared when the referee subsequently ruled it offside. Acuña fed him yet again soon after with an accurate ball over the top, but his shot was tipped wide by Cádiz goalkeeper Alberto Cifuentes.
Three minutes into the second half, Cádiz had taken the lead. Negredo, a former Sevilla player, artfully stepped over an out ball down the left before breaking through the middle. Pombo collected on the touchline before squaring for Negredo at the back post, who teed it up for Salvi Sánchez who finished with aplomb to give Cádiz their first home goal of the season.
Ocampos tried to respond immediately with a rather wild shot that took a deflection before being parried by Cifuentes, while at the other end Negredo tested the waters with an audacious Rabona.
Sevilla made changes that underlined their strength in depth while Cádiz dropped deeper to protect their lead — a change in the wind was evident. In the 65th minute, the visitors had their equaliser. Rakitić sprayed a cutting long ball out right to find Navas, who jinked inside before crossing for substitute Luuk de Jong — the Dutch forward attacked the ball with typical aggression to steer his header past Cifuentes and into the back of the net.
Sevilla continued to press for a winner while Cádiz maintained a tangible threat on the break. In the end, however, it was intelligent changes from visiting coach Julen Lopetegui that turned the tide.
Substitute Jordán was highly impressive against Bayern last Thursday and continued in his rich vein of form in his brief appearance in Cádiz — perhaps with Banega gone the Spaniard can assume more creative responsibility and prove himself to be more than simply a functional midfielder.
He dropped deep to collect the ball in the 90th minute before turning and delivering an incisive through ball to find fellow substitute Munir in space, who steadied himself before finishing coolly.
I know what you come here for: Munir El Haddadi propaganda.
But for serious though, that ball from Jordán! 😍😍#CadizSevilla
— K.T. Stockwell (@KTStockwell) September 27, 2020
Then, in the final minute of injury time, Sevilla scored a third to put the icing on the cake. De Jong launched an attack around the centre-circle by winning a header, which substitute and new signing Óscar seized upon to play through Munir. This time, however, the Spaniard squared for Rakitić to score — back for his second spell at Sevilla, it clearly meant a lot for him to mark his second debut for the club with a goal.