Sending-off hands Espanyol La Liga lifeline


Goals from Bernardo Espinosa and Wu Lei secured a comfortable 2-0 victory to move Espanyol within three points of safety, after Alavés goalkeeper Pacheco was dismissed for a stupid handball.

After a quiet opening ten minutes punctuated by a couple of minor injuries, Alavés – without their main attacking threats, Joselu and Lucas Perez – generated the first opening.

Central midfielder Edgar Mendez broke forward between the home side’s centre backs but went down too easily under pressure from Javi Lopez, rather than getting a shot off.

The Basque side saw any early attacking threat snuffed out in the 19th minute though, when they were reduced to ten men.

A long, central ball over the top to Espanyol centre forward Wu Lei was intercepted just in time by the visitors’ goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco, who claimed the ball cleanly with both hands above his head.

The only problem was he found himself a yard outside of his penalty area. The referee had no choice but to send him off and from that moment on, the relegation threatened hosts were in complete control.

Pacehco saw red for a moment of madness (credit: La Liga)

Wu Lei had a goal disallowed seven minutes later, after turning a cross into the net with his outstretched arm, before forcing a fine double save from Deportivo’s substitute goalkeeper Roberto on the half hour.

He produced another impressive double save in the 40th minute, first from Didac Vila’s near post drive and then Adri Embarba’s close-range overhead kick.

But under mounting pressure, Asier Garitano’s men couldn’t hold out until the break.

Espanyol finally break the deadlock (credit: Espanyol)

In the third minute of first-half injury time, Bernardo Espinosa powerfully met Embarba’s cross at the far post with his shoulder to give Espanyol the lead.

Just two minutes after half-time, the Catalans then made it 2-0 and effectively made sure of the three points; Wu Lei beat the offside trap and calmly finished over Roberto.

Espanyol’s Chinese striker secures the victory (credit: Espanyol)

Aberlado’s boys came close to a third in the 53rd minute, forcing a good low save at the near post direct from a free kick.

But as the second half drifted on, the urgency and attacking threat drifted from their performance.

Espanyol were sensible in the Barcelona heat, controlling possession and managing the game well against their handicapped visitors, who never had a chance to get back into it.

The hosts could have scored again late on. First substitute Raul de Tomas saw an effort well parried, before an unmarked Sergi Darder inexplicably struck wide from the former Benfica striker’s lay-off.

At the other end, debutant goalkeeper Oier barely touched the ball and had no saves to make.

The comfortable three points doesn’t lift Espanyol off the bottom of La Liga, but does move them within three points of safety with ten matches still to play.


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