RCD Espanyol earned a huge 1-0 win over Real Betis on Saturday.
Diego Martínez’s men were at the RCDE Stadium for an important LaLiga clash, with opponents Betis sitting sixth in the table. New signing Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel made the bench while Brian Oliván returned to the starting XI from suspension.
Espanyol came within inches of an early goal when Leandro Cabrera’s header crashed off the crossbar from the corner. Luiz Henrique tried a shot from range for the visitors, but did not trouble Álvaro Fernández in goal.
However, Fernández would soon be troubled by former Espanyol man Borja Iglesias. His header seemed goalbound, but an outstanding save by the Spanish keeper saw him claw the ball away against his own momentum and away from the goal.
Espanyol had been on top in the first half, and two minutes before half-time they would find their deserved breakthrough. An accurate low cross by Brian Oliván arrived in the box for Martin Braithwaite, who delicately guided it home for a vital lead going into the break.
Having ended on a high, Espanyol looked to have started on one too when Aleix Vidal scored from close range, but it was disallowed for an apparent foul in the build-up. Javi Puado then had a golden opportunity to double their lead, but he could not finish off a brilliant team move.
Betis were throwing everything at it for the final half hour, while Espanyol stood strong at the back and looked to hit them on the break. It was the visitors with the real chances in front of goal but coming up against a resilient blanquiazual defence and a defining blanquiazul support.
Espanyol could have had a penalty but nothing was given, and while Betis threw in the kitchen sink the hosts stood strong and together. A massive victory and a second in a row in the league was well deserved by Espanyol, as their unbeaten league run continued on a defiant night at the RCDE Stadium.
RCD Espanyol: Á. Fernández, Óscar Gil, Cabrera, Montes, B. Oliván, Vini Souza, Darder, Aleix V.C (Calero 72’), Puado (Nico M.R 80’), Braithwaite (Rubén S. 80’), Joselu.
Real Betis: C. Bravo, Aitor Ruibal, Pezzella, Edgar, Abner (Miranda 81’), G. Rodríguez (Rodri 60’), William, Luiz Henrique (Willian J. 81’), Canales, Guardado (Joaquín 74’), Iglesias.
Referee: Pablo González Fuertes
Goals: Braithwaite 43’
Bookings: Puado 26’, C. Montes 56’, Rubén S. 89’; G. Rodríguez 24’