3-0: Starting out on the right foot
Espanyol opened with a decisive win against Albacete Balompié
Espanyol returned to the competition with an emphatic win over Albacete. Vicente Moreno's team dominated in the first half, earning them a comfortable lead that allowed them to control the game after the half-time break. Initial goals came from Melendo and Wu Lei, but the lead could easily have been even greater. Tomeu Nadal made himself the hero of the visiting team with a number of vital saves, before Embarba closed out the game with a converted penalty in the final minutes.
It was Albacete who made the first attack on goal, but Miguelón was on hand to ward off the finishing shot. This proved to be the last opportunity to score for Albacete, who wouldn't make it out of their half again before the break. Espanyol's confidence grew, with Vicente Moreno instructing his players to keep possession, hold onto the ball and pass it around quickly. It was hard-earned, but the first combined effort resulted in a goal from Melendo. An excellent play by the entire team placed the ball at the feet of the number 14, who opened the scoreboard in acrobatic style. It was a turning point for Espanyol, who took full advantage.
Embarba came up with a shot that shook the crossbar, while RDT had two clear opportunities to extend his lead and David López almost scored with a header from a set piece. At this point, another goal seemed inevitable. Taking advantage of the visitors' hesitation in defence, Wu Lei fired a shot past Tomeu Nadal to extend the home team's lead. The Chinese forward came very close to scoring a third goal after a run from Embarba, but the Madrid player failed to find the mark with his final pass.
Albacete re-emerged from the break in somewhat improved form after three changes to the lineup by coach Alcarez. The La Mancha team ventured into the other half more frequently, while Espanyol lost some momentum but still managed to create a number of opportunities. After an excellent collaborative effort, Fran Mérida's finish went far wide of goal, but it was RDT who had the most difficulty in scoring. Try as he might to open his individual scorecard, the Madrid striker simply could not find a way past Tomeu Nadal, who turned into his worst nightmare. Eventually, the attacker was replaced by Puado, going to the bench goalless despite his best efforts.
The second half provided an opportunity to see several players who could play key roles in the team if they're able to get back to form: Darder, Vargas, Roca and Puado were all given a chance to shine. The canterano had two clear chances, but these were foiled once again by a hawk-like Tomeu Nadal. The Albacete keeper had the help of the crossbar in fending off the first attempt, then dove bravely to gather the second from the parakeet striker's feet. The visiting goalkeeper was, without a doubt, the star of his team. Then, as the last seconds ticked off the clock, Embarba struck home a third goal from the penalty spot. First step: taken. 41 left to go.