RCD Espanyol beat Real Valladolid 1-0 at the RCDE Stadium on Sunday.
Searching for that elusive first home win of the season, Diego Martínez brought Óscar Gil back into the fold as he reverted to a back four. Captain Sergi Darder was also available to start having come off injured last time out against Cádiz.
Darder would have the first clear chance of the evening, as his shot was blocked by Zouhair Feddal inside the box. Espanyol had started strong, only needing that final ball to go right and fall into their favour to be able to capitalise.
Benjamin Lecomte was tested from range a few times in the early stages, meeting them with comfortable saves as he and the team as a whole settled into the match.
The ball fell to Javi Puado from a corner, who lashed a fierce shot towards Jordi Masip before the referee blew for a foul in Valladolid’s favour. Sergio León then latched on a loose ball out of nothing, but Lecomte smothered the ball with a strong save low down.
Espanyol kept up their momentum following the break, desperate to take advantage of their control of the match and strike first at the RCDE Stadium.
Valladolid almost did just that with Joaquín Fernández’s shot, but Brian Oliván was positioned well to block the goalbound effort. That chance for Valladolid saw the momentum swing in favour of the visitors as they started to have the attempts on goal.
On 78 minutes, Espanyol finally found the breakthrough that they so dearly deserved. Oliván’s cross from the left flank was perfect and arrived to a towering Joselu in the box, who headed it home with power and accuracy to send the fans into delirium.
Puado could have added another one straight after the restart when he burst through one-on-one against the keeper, but his lob came agonisingly off the base of the post.
The final 15 minutes were tense, but Espanyol fought with every last bit of energy they had, controlling and seeing out the match. The final whistle was celebrated as if it were a goal, rather the sweet taste of victory for the first time this season at the Temple.
RCD Espanyol: Lecomte, Óscar Gil, Cabrera, Calero, Oliván, Edu Expósito (K. Bare 71’), Vini Souza, Darder, Aleix V.C (Lazo 71’), Joselu, Puado (Nico M.R 88’).
Real Valladolid: Masip, Escudero, Javi Sánchez, Feddal (Joaquín F. 46’), L. Olaza, Kike (Sergi Guardiola 80’), Roque Mesa (Aguado 80’), Monchu, I. Sánchez (Narvaez 61’), Sergio León (Weissman 61’), Óscar Plano.
Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz
Goals: 1-0 Joselu 78’.
Bookings: Vini Souza 63’; Feddal 15’, Escudero 32’, Monchu 52’, Roque Mesa 59’.