Espanyol beats Sporting and is one step away from First Division | Soccer | Sports

There was not enough football but the desire and intensity, the dedication of an Espanyol that is known as First Division due to heraldry and history. Sporting suffered from it, which did not offer more football or determination, and which does not have a Braithwaite who is worth everything. “Yes, damn it, we are going to move up!” the fans roared, already with the final whistle and their voice punished, revelry in the blue and white stadium, flag in the air and burst of joy because the promotion to just one step, now against Oviedo in the final of the playoffs.


Joan Garcia, Pere Milla (Salvi, min. 75), Calero, Omar, Cabrera, Keidi (Aguado, min. 75), José Gragera, Jofre (Gastón Valles, min. 75), Melamed (Brian, min. 63), Javi Puado (Rafael Bauza, min. 88) and Braithwaite


Rubén Yáñez, Pablo García, Diego Sánchez, Guille Rosas, Insúa, Roque Mesa (Nacho Méndez, min. 71), Hassan (Djurdevic, min. 71), Cristian Rivera (Róber, min. 58), Gaspar Campos (Fran Villalba, min. 65), Mario González (Campuzano, min. 59) and Juan Ferney Otero


Referee Alvaro Moreno Aragón

Yellow cards Cristian Rivera (min. 36), Fran Villalba (min. 67) and Djurdevic (min. 91)

Three hours before the match began, the floods of fans around the Espanyol stadium were already very thick, fans with a certain nervousness and great enthusiasm, a good celebration because there are not so many afternoons of celebration for a club that has accumulated two relegations in four years, that in this course has not risen directly to First Division as the required roadmap dictated. The burning intermingled with the tension was also palpable, comments of if you don’t win you burn with everything, tired of a government remotely controlled from China – President Chen Yansheng – and of the sporting disappointments, also of the Dry Law with the signings after the president has foolishly invested more than 200 million in eight courses. But first the ball had to dictate the sentence and that is why the throats tuned with songs like Sweet Caroline or the Sarà perché you love, none like the Espanyol anthem sung a cappella and accompanied by a huge typhus to give you goosebumps. Although he also found an echo of the song born in El Molinón in the first leg of the semifinal of the playoffs (0-1): “Whoa, whoa; Aleee, Aleee. They’re going to see us come back, they’re going to see us come back, they’re going to see us come back; We are going to ascend.” After Sporting, they have it just around the corner.

It happened, however, that before the first minute was up, everyone was already throwing their hands at each other, ojiplasticos because Puado missed a delicious counterattack, a chance that could not have been imagined, as Jofre went deep from the right to take a cross that left the striker in the goalmouth and without a goalkeeper. But his finishing touch, his absurdity, was to send her high. Although at the time Puado collapsed, Braithwaite, omnipresent as he would demonstrate in the game, cried out to the stands for applause because it was not a night of reproaches, but of encouragement, of everyone coming together. And that’s what Espanyol did on the pitch, a team with narrow lines between the lines, rhythmic pressure, a defense that was difficult to overcome, which for some reason has not lost in 18 duels (11 draws and seven wins). A loss for Sporting, who wanted the ball but couldn’t get their way, lowered football because if they managed to get past the front line they would run out of ideas or ingenuity to express themselves in the opposite field. Perhaps Hassan’s runs and slaloms, sometimes Juan Otero’s breakaways.

Espanyol was not interested in whether their football was elegant or beautiful, but rather that it was rough but practical, capable in any case of putting together a good game if Gragera participated. But the team, so organized and plural in defense, was only one in attack: Martin Braithwaite. The Dane, more than just a day laborer in the First Division but a gifted player in the Second Division, was the blue and white multipurpose knife: the reference for long passes from behind by a Cabrera who doesn’t think twice and a Calero who makes them with intention; also the loudspeaker of the decibels of the stands, since on one occasion the goalkeeper confronted him after he followed a play that was invalidated, a good scandal; and even the reveler in the area, because when he stepped on it, he stirred the revolutions, two headers that went without a prize, one to the goalkeeper and the other high.

But with no more bite than Braithwaite, Espanyol was partially reduced because Sporting did their best to cover him to grow and mature in the game, already with the ball at his feet, almost always to the sound of Roque Mesa. For example, a center from Pablo García arrived for Juan Otero who put his foot, but not the direction, a ball that tickled the post but from the outside. Another, even clearer, was from Mario, who in one against him stepped into the area and before Joan García – a goalkeeper from head to toe – he crossed excessively. But little more. The pepper, even after the intermission, was in the rival area. Because closing Braitwaite was not easy, especially in the race. He created an opportunity with a threaded shot that barely missed the goal and participated in another that Keidi Bare resolved with a too soft shot. And even a finishing touch was invented I remanguilled that only the stick dared to spit. To Braithwaite, who was everything, the caviar and the prawn, Cream of the creamThe only thing missing was the goal.

But Espanyol was better off not conceding it and this team knows how to sing a lullaby to the games, close the gaps and blur the rival, always with Bare and Gragera giants in the task of blocking, Cabrera and Calero splendid in denying the forwards, and Joan García and his mittens were punctual, like in that stop at the end of a distant shot by Juan Otero. By then, fatigue had already taken its toll and Manolo González was pulling the gear wheel, new legs to explain that his team doesn’t have to cough. Espanyol was left with one less in injury time due to a late tackle by Omar. The Gijon team pushed hard when the curtain was threatened with closing, more with scares than with reality, as it happened. Sporting barely spoke out and Espanyol began to validate the chant of their fans, the one that said goodbye to the happy night in Cornellà… “Whoa, whoa; Aleee, Aleee. They’re going to see us come back, they’re going to see us come back, they’re going to see us come back; We are going to ascend.”

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