On Friday October 23rd Rayo Vallecano hosted Espanyol in match week 9’s first fixture. Going into the game Rayo had only defeated newly promoted sides Las Palmas and Sporting Gijón, having lost 5 of the other 6 matches and also having recently been thumped by 5 goals to 2 by Barcelona. Espanyol on the other hand came into the encounter with typical erratic form but having picked up a victory in their last outing against promoted side Real Betis. It was a good opportunity for either club to pick up more points in their bid to climb up the table.
The game began well for Espanyol as Hernán Pérez made good work with a piercing run down the right wing before checking back and delivering an inviting cross for Víctor Álvarez whose close range header was kept out well by Rayo keeper Toño. That was about as good as it got for Espanyol however as events soon turned sour for the Catalonian outfit with Patrick Ebert taking advantage of confusion in the box, heading across goal but unfortunately seeing his effort bounce back off the post.
Rayo were in the ascendancy and soon after, a quality volleyed cross was sent in towards Javi Guerra who failed to make contact with the ball but no matter as Rayo were awarded a penalty after on-loan centre-half Enzo Roco was adjudged to have impeded the forward whilst going for the ball. On reflection it might have been a slightly harsh call against the Chilean but it did little to faze Roberto Trashorras as the wily, veteran midfielder stepped up to convert the spot-kick and put Vallecano ahead with a coolness one would expect from the set-piece expert.
Things went from bad to worse for Espanyol as they were reduced to 10 men after they lost influential defensive midfielder and captain Víctor Sánchez as he picked up a second yellow card for a needless professional foul on Raúl Baena. In the second half on-loan Real Madrid youngster Marcos Asensio was dispossessed in midfield and the ball was fed to former Manchester United flop Bebé, on loan from Benfica, who squared a delightful ball across the ground for Javi Guerra to tap home and double the advantage.
The match was all but sealed two minutes later in the 78th minute when Guerra bagged himself a brace, rifling inside the far post from outside the area completing a fluid attacking move after some clever interplay from Rayo. Check out Guerra’s fine strike here. In the dying embers of the match Espanyol had the chance to reduce the arrears and grab a consolation when another on-loan Real Madrid youth player Burgui’s shot was stopped from reaching the goal by the arm of Rayo player Tito. That earned the right-back a dismissal and had the teams finish with 10 men apiece. However, not even a consolation goal would come for Espanyol as Burgui’s effort was saved by Toño and that was the final kick of the game ending a dismal performance from Espanyol but an important one for Toño and Rayo Vallecano.
Going forward Espanyol will want to improve on their distribution of the ball as they had little joy in finding each other on the pitch, a 67% pass accuracy bringing little returns. Rayo were the better of the two sides on the day in all departments, boasting more efforts on goal as well as 61.5% possession as they controlled proceedings and dictated the tempo throughout the 90 minutes. Looking ahead, Espanyol will look to bounce back as they host struggling Granada and Rayo will travel to face in form Eibar, the Basques have only lost 2 of their opening 9 fixtures.