RCD Espanyol were held to a 1-1 home draw by Osasuna on Saturday.
Diego Martínez’s men began the second half of the season at the RCDE Stadium hoping to build on their strong home form. There was a debut for Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel at the back, while Martin Braithwaite led the line in the absence of injured talisman Joselu.
A rapid start from the Mágico saw Braithwaite head it goalbound inside the opening 90 seconds, though it was a comfortable save for Aitor Fernández. His opposite number and namesake Álvaro Fernández then denied Osasuna’s Abde Ezzalzouli at the near post in an end-to-end opening period.
Javi Puado came within inches of opening the scoring with his header from a corner but his effort slammed off the post. Osasuna would respond with a double chance, as Ante Budimir hooked it wide - though was offside - then headed it into Fernández’s arms.
The match was turned on its head on the stroke of half-time, first when Osasuna took the lead through Budimir. In stoppage time Pierre-Gabriel and Abde clashed with each other and were both sent off, leaving the two teams down to 10 men and the visitors ahead at the break.
Espanyol needed to respond and brought on Rubén Sánchez for the second half to restore the back four. Braithwaite’s turn and shot was good enough to force a top save by Aitor Fernández, but the hosts were gaining momentum with the backing of the fans.
Just shy of the hour mark, Espanyol and Braithwaite found the equaliser. An excellent cross in from Leandro Cabrera made its way through to the Danish striker, who poked it home from inside the six-yard box to instil life into the Mágico and draw level.
It was the hosts with the momentum and confidence, bringing on two more debutants in Denis Suárez and José Gragera. Thought they pushed for the win and gave it everything, Espanyol fell just short and instead earned a valiant point at the RCDE Stadium.
RCD Espanyol: Á. Fernández, Pierre-Gabriel, Cabrera, C. Montes (S. Gómez 39’), B. Oliván, Calero (Gragera 61’), Darder, Aleix V.C (Rubén S. 46’), Nico M.R (Denis Suárez 61’), Braithwaite (Edu Expósito 75’), Puado.
CA Osasuna: Aitor Fernández, Diego M. (Ibañez 67’), Unai García, David García, Juan Cruz, Moncayola, Torró (Darko 46’), Moi Gómez, Chimy Ávila (Rubén García 57’), Budimir (Kike G. 67’), Abde.
Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano
Goals: 0-1 Budimir 45’; 1-1 Braithwaite 59’
Bookings: Pierre-Gabriel 45+4’, Aleix V.C 45+6’; Abde 16’, Moi Gómez 29’, Unai García 60’; Moncayola 77'
Red cards: Pierre-Gabriel 45+5’; Abde 45+4’