Espanyol only gain a point in Gijón from a match they deserved more, and with controversial refereeing
It was Sporting’s turn to test Espanyol’s responsiveness in February, when the league table starts to put the pressure on once again. After playing a good match in Barcelona, the red and whites were looking for a victory to move them up the table, and were well aware they had to make it even more difficult for Espanyol - a side Gallego knows perfectly well.
The white and blues started the match positively, and Mariño was tested by Embarba’s shot just 20 seconds into the match. A minute later and Darder’s opportunity didn’t convert either. This was just the beginning of the visiting side’s domination. Shortly after came some good exchanges upfront that ended up in a goal scored by Embarba. Checked by the VAR, the goal was confirmed and added to the scoreboard.
The pace of the match gradually increased, and Sporting equalised with barely enough time to get back into formation. Djuka dribbled the ball towards the box and his shot hit the post after passing Diego López and found the back of the net. But a string of VAR moments were yet to come. First of all, the referee waived a very clear penalty incident involving Óscar Gil, and then a goal Gaspar scored minutes later that the referee allowed was then chopped off by VAR due to the attacker (very clearly) touching the ball with his hand.
In the second half, Espanyol went back to what they needed to do: to put pressure on, approach the home goal and try not to make any defensive mistakes that would cost them the result.
A good cross by Puado set up Dimata’s header, but it went over the bar, and resulted in the Catalan forward also being left unrewarded. There were more opportunities: Embarba’s attempt was denied by Mariño and then Óscar Gil’s shot scuffed the top of the crossbar. There was still time for another header, by Nico Melamed on this occasion, which also took a slight deflection away from the goal.
Espanyol could only settle for the draw in the end, but they left Gijón with the feeling that they deserved more, and that the football and the work they put in ended up giving them little reward for a match that they controlled and dominated without any problem.
*Translated by Montero Language Services.