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Osasuna maintain European bid

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By David Redshaw

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Osasuna ensured they remained in the European places with a 2-0 win over nine-man Espanyol at the Reyno de Navarra.

The Pamplona side had conceded 11 goals against Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano in their previous two games, and they were lucky not to go behind after just five minutes when Kalu Uche somehow contrived to put the ball over the bar from close range. However, the hosts gradually began to get a foothold in the game following a nervy start and midfielder Raul Garcia, on loan from Atlético Madrid, had two chances in a minute to put his side ahead but saw one effort hit a post and the other sail over the bar.

Nonetheless, Garcia made up for his earlier misses eight minutes after the break when he beat goalkeeper Kiko Casilla from inside the box after getting on the end of Lolo’s right-wing cross. Espanyol were reduced to 10 men two minutes later, Coutinho receiving a second yellow card for kicking the ball away, and Garcia made them pay for it 20 minutes from time when he expertly lobbed Casilla for his ninth goal of the season.

A miserable evening for Espanyol was rounded off five minutes from time when they had another man sent off, Argentine defender Juan Forlin dismissed after fouling Garcia to earn his second booking of the game.

Espanyol boss Mauricio Pochettino felt his side did well but the expulsion of Coutinho was the turning point in the game.

“We controlled things well from the first whistle and were superior at the start of the second half, claimed the Argentine. “But Coutinho’s dismissal turned the game. After that we tried but it is very difficult playing with 10 men and so it proved."

José Luis Mendilibar, banished to the stands to serve a suspension after being sent from the bench in the Madrid game, thought his team owed the fans something after the recent poor displays.

“We needed to give the supporters something and I don’t know whether to forgive or forget after the last two weeks,” said the Osasuna Coach. “We must judge things over a season, although it was important we took something from this match and we have now risen again after a fall.”

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