Marbella produced a quality display to beat Linares 2-0 with goals from Asier Goti and Joseba Beitia on Sunday. The victory leaves them in third place, just one point behind leaders Cartagena and second-placed Lorca, both on 41 points.
The home side shot out from the blocks and were unlucky not to be ahead within the first minute. Linares also had their chances in the opening exchanges but Gonzalo and Martos were unable to take advantage to change the flow of the game. Nafti was again able to instil in his players the intensity that was present in their incredible sequence of nine victories in ten games at the start of the season. The feeling that the blanquillos were unstoppable had returned.
The breakthrough came in the 19th minute when Okoye crossed in to Goti who rifled a fierce shot into the top corner. The visitors had no response. Petcoff, Beitia and Lolo were moving the ball around as they pleased. New arrival Luis Rioja seemed as if he had been playing the whole season at the Municipal. Marbella were simply on another level as they headed into the break.
The hosts did not let up as they scored with the first moment of danger in the second half. Okoye made his way into the box from the left flank, drawing the whole defence with him. Instead of shooting, he dragged the ball back to the penalty spot where Beitia was waiting to coolly finish past Lopito. It was a devastating blow for Linares, who disappeared from the game.
With the confidence of a significant advantage in the scoreline, Marbella started to relax and hand possession to their opponents. Linares' search for a goal opened up the field and the hosts took advantage on the counter-attack, with Goti and Damián coming close.
The Marbella coaches decided to switch the side around, taking off two of the stars of the game. The stands at the Municipal, more animated than usual, stood to see off Goti and broke into applause when Okoye left the field.
The second half was a stroll in the park for Marbella who did not stop working. They were superior in all aspects of the game: more solid defensively, more varied in attack, quicker to the ball and more precise with it. The side have their sights firmly set on top spot once more.