Celta Vigo 2-1 Sporting de Gijón: Late freak goal sees the hosts nick the win
Photo: Marca

Celta Vigo snatched all three points at home to Sporting de Gijón on Saturday, Nolito charging down goalkeeper Iván Cuéllar's clearance and seeing it bounce in off of him for the win late on.

The hosts started the game in much more convincing fashion and deservedly led at the break after Fabián Orellana tapped home into an empty goal early on.

Sporting were much improved in the second period though, with Castro coming off the bench and equalising just 60 seconds later as the momentum swung into the visitors' favour.

However, they couldn't make the most of this and would ultimately be punished in strange fashion as Nolito was credited with a freak goal with six minutes remaining, one which won Celta the game as they bounced back from two consecutive defeats in La Liga.

Celta take lead after slow start

After a steady start to the game which saw them dominate possession without doing much with it, Celta took the lead with less than 15 minutes played through Orellana.

The hosts had been probing away without really threatening in the opening stages, but a teasing ball into the box from Nolito carved Sporting's back line open, allowing Theo Bongonda to slide in and tee up Orellana to tap home into an empty net.

Whether or not Bongonda meant to find his teammate, or whether it was just his attempted prod home being mis-hit, the initial cross from Celta's number 10 was superb and left Sporting in disarray at the back, with it put in such a dangerous area, and the home side were clinical as they capitalised and deservedly went ahead.

Goal kicks game into gear

The tempo increased as a result of this goal, with both teams stepping it up a gear and the game becoming a lot more end-to-end.

Less than 10 minutes after going ahead, Bongonda could have doubled Celta's lead as Manchester City loanee John Guidetti threaded him through on goal with a fantastic defensive-splitting pass. The forward used his pace to escape his marker, but his finish at the end of the run lacked conviction, trickling into the grateful arms of Cuéllar.

Sporting then went down the other end and caused some problems of their own, Jony first drilling a low cross in at the near post from the left, but seeing it evade Dani Ndi's run and instead be directed away from danger by the legs of goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez.

The visitors then had the ball in the back of the net less than a minute later, Isma López using his strength to see off his marker before finishing well, but the goal was to be disallowed for an offside in the build-up - Antonio Sanabria, who provided the assist, behind the last man as he received the ball from Jony.

However, despite these chances, it remained Celta on top with Sporting looking to play on the counter, using the pace and running of the likes of Alen Halilovic and López to get them forward quickly.

They defended well too, getting bodies behind the ball to frustrate the hosts and limit them to few opportunities, with most coming in the form of long range efforts as Guidetti's strike at goal from 20 yards took a deflection and was well saved by Cuéllar at his near post.

Nolito was having fun dancing his way through Sporting's team though, doing so on several occasions with his quick and tricky feet, and one occasion before the break almost provided his side with another goal as he lifted the ball into the box for Bongonda, but the forward couldn't get over the volley as he blasted it high and wide.

Despite what the scoreline may have suggested, Celta went in at the break comfortable and in control, but in need of another goal or two with Sporting still posing the odd threat at times.

Super sub Castro levels things up as Sporting take over

It was more of the same after the break, with the hosts keeping the ball well and looking to add to their lead.

However, this meant that Sporting sensed the need for change and so opted for a switch up top, with striker Sanabria replaced by Castro just past the hour - and it was a change that proved pivotal as the substitute levelled things up a minute after being introduced.

It was a great impact from the forward, with him given a chance immediately after coming on and showing fantastic sharpness to take it with a clinical finish as he tucked the ball away into the bottom corner one-on-one as if he'd been on the field since the start.

The equaliser meant a change in momentum in the game too, with Sporting taking control having gained confidence from the goal.

It was that man Castro who came close to a second goal in the closing stages as well, Juan Muñiz feeding him before he confidently burst through on goal, but he could not direct his effort the right side of the post this time, with it just off target.

Freak goal gives Celta the lead against run of play, and the win

Having struggled to establish themselves in this second half, Celta were staring dropped points in the face and hanging on to a point against the newly promoted outfit, who were pressing more and more for a winner.

What they needed then was a stroke of luck and they got exactly that when goalkeeper Cuéllar smacked a clearance against the charging Nolito, the ball bouncing off his shin and into the back of the net from 20 yards with just over five minutes to go.

The Celta man certainly got his reward for chasing down the lost cause that was Iago Aspas' aimless long ball forward, but Sporting will have felt hard done by given they way they had settled since equalising and started to take control.

Luck did swing back into the visitors' favour minutes later, Nolito and Aspas combining this time in a much prettier move as the latter's headed flick-on found the goal-scorer, but his chipped effort bounced off the bar and back into play.

However, it didn't matter in the end as Celta stole all three points in very fortunate fashion, with Sporting disappointed with the result but encouraged by their performance.