VIGO, Spain – Celta kept its Europa League hopes alive with a come from behind 2-1 victory on Monday against UD Las Palmas, which remains stuck in the La Liga drop zone.
The win lifts Celta to ninth place with 38 points, just three behind sixth-place Villarreal. Las Palmas holds steady in the 18th spot with 20 points, one away from safety.
The first half was lively, with the sides trading possession, but neither offense was very effective.
Though Las Palmas generated chances, Celta keeper Ruben Blanco was never seriously troubled in the first half. At the other end, Chichizola had to make just one stop for the visitors, turning aside a strike by Emre Mor.
Celta’s Maxi Gomez squandered a good opportunity early in the second half and the hosts found themselves down 1-0 in the 53rd minute after Erik Exposito scored in his first game for Las Palmas as a starter.
The goal energized the visitors and they nearly doubled their advantage a few minutes later off a corner, but Aguirregaray missed from 10 yards to let Celta off the hook.
Supporters in the stands at Vigo’s Balaidos stadium grew restive and coach Juan Carlos Unzue recalibrated, sending in Brais Mendez for Radoja and adjusting his tactical scheme.
Mendez didn’t take long to make an impact, forcing a save from Chichizola that left Celta’s Jonny needing only to nudge the ball over the line to equalize in the 61st minute.
With the game level at 1-1, the visitors pulled back in a bid to preserve a point that could prove vital to their chances of staying up.
Celta took full command and, with two minutes left in regulation, Pablo “Tucu” Hernandez used his chest to control an Iago Aspas cross before putting the ball past Chichizola for the 2-1 win.