|First Division - Day 3|
Celta 1 - Espanyol 0
Velasco, Cáceres, Djorovic, Juanfran; Doriva, Vagner (Manolo 67');
Jesuli (Giovanella 46'), Mostovoi, Gustavo López (Coira 88'); Catanha.
Team changes: Celta: Jesuli for Karpin / Espanyol: Iván Díaz, Manel for Navas, Serrano.
Celta moved two points clear at the top of the first division, with new striker Catanha scoring his third goal in three league games to take maximum points. Last season the Vigo side lost steam at the end for want of a reliable striker who could take the chances that Mostovoi, Karpin and company laid on. The signing of Catanha has changed all that, and with McCarthy waiting in the wings just in case, Celta could mount a serious challenge on the championship this year. Starting early to play in the Intertoto cup, they have now gone the last 14 games without defeat, and with other new signings such as Jesuli (who replaced the flu ridden Karpin for this match) they have a better balanced squad than last season.
They were up against an Espanyol side who got off to a good start in their first match of the season, but have since faltered. Missing their first choice strike force, with Oscar still injured and Tamudo (and Velamazán for that matter) still at the Olympics, they have been forced to play the transfer listed Manel or Serrano up front (this time it was Manel), with Iván Díaz covering for Velamazán on the right of midfield. Both teams were playing with one eye on next Thursday's UEFA cup ties, with Víctor resting Vagner and Jesuli in the second half.
Espanyol sat back right from the start, packing midfield to smother the Celta attacks and counting on rapid counter-attacks for scoring chances. It nearly worked in the tenth minute when Pinto had to save from Manel, but Celta took the lead a few minutes later after Gustavo López had left two defenders for dead on the left. His shot was only parried by Mora, and Catanha, in the right place at the right time, stroked the ball into the empty net. A simple goal, but Celta missed a lot easier chances last season (Turdó's shot over the bar from a yard out for example). Catanha's form has attracted the interest of Spain's coach Camacho, and with the ex Málaga striker getting his Spanish passport a few days ago, he may be in the next Spanish squad.
Celta could have scored two or three more in the first half, with Mora saving at point blank range from Juanfran for example, but Espanyol came back in the last half hour and this time it was the Celta keeper who saved the day near the end from Manel's header. The result takes the Vigo side two points clear of their local rivals Deportivo at the top of the table, and leaves Espanyol in the bottom half of the table after two defeats in a row.