RCD Espanyol lost 1-0 to Villarreal at the RCDE Stadium on Wednesday.
For the final home match of 2022, Fernando Calero came in for the suspended Leandro Cabrera in defence. With a decent run of form at the RCDE Stadium, Diego Martínez’s men were looking to end on a high in front of their home support.
Espanyol came straight out of the blocks as did Javi Puado, who had a quickfire double chance early on. His first attempt did not trouble Villarreal but the second one was close to an quickfire goal, as Gerónimo Rulli made a save one-on-one to keep him at bay.
Yeremy Pino went through on goal with Villarreal’s first attempt of the night, but Benjamin Lecomte managed to kick it away. Espanyol were looking the better team and having their moments, but needed to string together that final pass at the end.
Keidi Bare had a go from range but to no avail, before Sergi Darder had their best chance thus far when he made his way into the box. Only a deflection stopped his shot going into the top corner, as a goalless first half left a decisive 45 minutes ahead.
Both sides had an early chance in the second half, first for the visitors as Étienne Capoue forced Lecomte into a flying save across goal. Espanyol charged up the other end and looked to score on the break, but Puado could not convert past Rulli.
The end-to-end affair continued, with Samuel Chukwueze firing over before Bare came agonisingly close with his low effort in the box. Villarreal would find the breakthrough albeit through an unfortunate own goal by Lecomte, capping off a move where the hosts just could not clear their lines.
Espanyol began to throw everything they could at the opposition for an equaliser. A goalmouth scramble was clawed away by Rulli before Aleix Vidal fired it straight at the keeper from a tight angle.
Rulli was becoming a busy man in goal and once again pulled off two excellent saves, first from Darder’s long shot then at the near post from Óscar Gil. Espanyol could not find the goal they had so desperately searched for, falling to defeat on home soil.
RCD Espanyol: Lecomte, Óscar Gil, S. Gómez, Calero, B. Oliván (Lazo 89’), Vini Souza (Edu Expósito 60’), K. Bare (Nico M.R 81’), Darder, Braithwaite (Aleix V.C 60’), Joselu, Puado (D. Gómez 81’).
Villarreal CF: Rulli, Kiko Femenía (Foyth 77’), Albiol, Cuenca, A. Moreno, Parejo (Morlanes 85’), Capoue (Coquelin 70’), M. Trigueros (Baena 70’), Chukwueze, Danjuma (Gerard 77’), Yeremy.
Referee: Javier Iglesias Villanuevas
Goals: 0-1 Lecomte (o.g) 64’
Bookings: Nico M.R 89’; Capoue 38’, Yeremy 79’, Albiol 90+2’