Bottom side Espanyol down 10-man Alaves after keeper sent off
Espanyol defender Bernardo Espinosa and forward Wu Lei scored either side of the break to hand the relegation-threatened side a 2-0 La Liga home win over Alaves, who had goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco sent off early in Saturday’s contest.
Victory in their first match on the league’s resumption after the COVID-19 stoppage took basement team Espanyol to 23 points from 28 games, three points off the safety zone.
Espinosa gave Espanyol the lead in the final seconds of the first half, heading Adri Embarba’s cross past substitute keeper Roberto Jimenez before Chinese striker Wu doubled the lead two minutes into the second period having beaten the offside trap.
“It was an important day... we have demonstrated that ambition, desire and life that this team has,” goalscorer Espinosa was quoted as saying by AS.
Alaves were reduced to 10 men in the 19th minute when their starting Spanish keeper Pacheco was shown a straight red card after he misread a long pass and handled the ball just outside the penalty area.
Espanyol were unable to make the most of the resultant free kick but they continued to create opportunities, forcing Jimenez into a pair of superb double saves against his former team, before eventually making the breakthrough.
“He is a goalkeeper with a great career... lot of experience and today he was successful,” Alaves boss Asier Garitano said of Jimenez. “He was good, he chose well. It’s not easy to enter with one (player) less.”
Espanyol dominated possession and could have added a third late on when striker Raul de Tomas found fellow substitute Sergi Darder unmarked inside the box, but the midfielder failed to find the target with Jimenez out of position.
Espanyol, who have been in the top-flight for 85 out of 89 seasons including the last 26 years, face a tough run-in with games against Real Madrid and local rivals Barcelona to come.
Trigueros nets injury-time winner as Villarreal sink Celta Vigo
Villarreal midfielder Manu Trigueros scored a late winner to give his side a 1-0 La Liga away victory at relegation-threatened Celta Vigo in an otherwise lacklustre contest.
Both teams struggled to hit top gear at the Balaidos stadium following the long break due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, but Trigueros’ 91st minute strike sealed all three points and heaped more pressure on 17th-placed Celta.
Villarreal’s Vicente Iborra had gone close to giving them the lead in the first half, but his powerful shot from close range was saved by Celta goalkeeper Ruben Blanco in the 17th minute.
Villarreal climbed to eighth place with 41 points from 28 matches while Celta have 26 points and are in danger of slipping into the bottom three.