2-2: Sprit without reward
An Espanyol side willed on by its support gave everything and got back on the scoreboard, but was unable to avoid the eventual draw
It was an all or nothing game. Win, or win. There was no other option. After recent results, the “blanquiazul” side needed to get all three points. Despite a bad start to the game by Machín’s boys, they were able to turn it around before the break with goals from Darder and Bernardo. The “blanquiazules” had victory within their grasp for most of the second half, but another goal from the visitors left them having to make do with just the one point.
Machín again went with his usual league starting eleven in order to try to get the first win of the season at the RCDE Stadium. Up against many familiar faces; from Rubi and his coaching team in the technical area and many ex-players such as Zou, Bartra (who played in the academy) Tello and Borja Iglesias, the main threat. Many feared that the Galician, out of action these past few weeks, would start. Rubi opted to start him and Borja took just three minutes to repay his trust. Álex Moreno crossed and and Borja headed into the back of the net. It couldn’t have been a worse start.
However, the team, and above all, the fans did not give up. The crowd played its role to perfection and did not stop encouraging the team, shouting and willing them on. They were the 12
th man, and perhaps the star player. The “blanquiazul” players have become accustomed to setbacks this year and even though there were some nervous moments they kept on going. In no small part thanks to Sergi Darder. The Majorcan stepped up to the plate and created the first goal after a brilliant bit of individual play. The team kept fighting, believing and showing confidence until now concealed. Marc Roca gave everything; Calleri never stopped fighting as did Campuzano, a true warrior. They were not made to wait long for their reward. Bernardo made amends for his mistake in the run up to Borja’s goal, taking advantage of a rebound to net Espanyol’s second. A VAR check made for a nervy few minutes, but the RCDE Stadium was able to celebrate the goal.
The game was hugely tense. In the second half there was not as much to talk about from a footballing perspective, but it was exhilarating nonetheless. RCD sought to press Betis when they had the ball, creating duels all over the pitch. There were no clear chances, with Bernardo coming closest with a shot that brushed the post. However, the game became more complicated in the later stages. Diego López stopped Tello equalizing with a spectacular acrobatic save, but could do nothing about Bartra’s effort from point blank moments after. Another goal by an ex player. Ferreyra entered the fray and had a decent chance which Joel cleared for a corner. Willed on by the supporters, the team gave everything until the final whistle, emptying the tank. Now in the dying embers of the game, Diego López was again the saviour, pushing Tello’s effort away for a corner when one on one with the Betis man.