Sunday September 11, 2011 (15.00 UK)
Garcia 29, 90 – Lopez 71
Garcia missed penalty 85
Lopez sent off 85
La Romareda, Zaragoza
An even game came to an entertaining end as Zaragoza recorded their first win of the season against an Espanyol side that will feel they deserved at least a point.
The home side started brighter than their opponents and Ruben Micael forced two early saves from Cristian Alvarez after nice build up from Angel Lafita and Luis Garcia. Espanyol came more into the game after 20 minutes when Joan Verdu played in Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard’s left footed drive had Roberto beaten but sailed just past the Zaragoza keeper’s post.
Los Blanquilos then went agonisingly close when the oncoming Micael somehow managed to miss from three yards after a good cross from Helder Postiga. A continued spell of pressure paid off when Lafita crossed in and Garcia nodded past a helpless Alvarez to give the home side a deserved lead.
Espanyol looked to restore parity quickly, but struggled to break down the disciplined Zaragoza defence. Their best chance of the difficult half came when Sergio Garcia clipped the ball toward the back post where Javier Marquez had made a run, but the midfielder could only blaze wide. A series of scrappy challenges stunted their play, and Romaric and Postiga went into the break on yellows.
Espanyol continued to press in the second half, but continued to struggle against Aguirre’s men, who dropped very deep into their own half to defend their lead. Sergio Garcia carried on causing problems though, and his ability to get in behind Javier Paredes gave the visitors a good option for crosses.
Despite not having a shot on target for seventy minutes, Mauricio Pochettino’s men dominated possession for long spells in the second half, and they were rewarded when Lopez’s dangerous cross luckily went in without anyone touching it. Zaragoza’s hardworking defence had been undone by a very fortunate, but deserved goal.
After a much more open 15 minutes that saw both sides go close, Javi Lopez was sent off for a foul on Lafita in the box. Zaragoza’s goal scorer Garcia stepped up to convert the penalty but was thwarted by the legs of Alvarez. The ten men of Espanyol were put under a lot of pressure in the last five minutes, but slack marking in the box allowed Garcia to make amends for his penalty miss and score his second to secure Zaragoza’s first win of the season.
Real Zaragoza (5-4-1): Roberto; Juarez, Mateos, Meira (Abraham 79), Silva, Paredes; Garcia, Ponzio (Barrera 60), Micael, Lafita; Postiga (Braulio 81)
Unused subs: Zuculini, Franco, Carlos, Lanzaro
Espanyol (4-4-2): Alvarez; Lopez, Forlin, Moreno, Didac; Garcia, Baena, Marquez (Pandiani 45), Verdu (Romaric 25); Thievy, Alvaro (Weiss 45)
Unused subs: Fonte, Casilla, Galan, Amat
Did you know… In the last five Liga meetings between these sides, the home side has always won.