First Division - Day 17

Espanyol 2 - Numancia 0

Espanyol: Mora; Cristóbal, Soldevilla, Pochettino, Toledo; Sergio, Galca; Velamazán, Oscar (Martín Posse 13', De Lucas 80'), Roger; Tamudo. 4-2-3-1.
Numancia: Alvaro Nuñez; Jaume, Muñiz (Barbu 46'), Gustavo, Octavio; José Manuel, Nagore, Pacheta, Caco Morán (David Pirri 60'); Iñaki; Ojeda (Chispa Delgado 75'). 4-4-2.

Team changes: Espanyol: Cristóbal, Toledo, Oscar for Navas, Arteaga, Martín Posse / Numancia: Jaume, Pacheta for Manel, Rubén Navarro.

1-0. 29. Muñiz (own goal). Turned Velamazán's cross from right into own net.
2-0. 44. Tamudo. Dribbled round defender and shot low past keeper.

A near fatal accident to Espanyol's Oscar overshadowed this match at the Montjuic stadium. The Catalan midfielder had finally won a place in the starting line up after a long string of injuries had kept him out of the side since joining his brother Roger at the club in summer. In the twelfth minute of the game he suddenly collapsed on the pitch and in doing so apparently swallowed his own tongue, cutting off the air to his lungs. The Numancia players were the first to reach him and immediately called the medical staff on to the pitch seeing him unable to breath. Doctors rushed on, and the Numancia physiotherapist was the first to react, forcing a tube down his throat to reopen the passage. The quick reaction of all concerned, including referee López Nieto, saved the player's life, and he left in an ambulance which dramatically came on to the pitch to take him off to the local hospital. Shortly afterwards however he had recovered and after a series of checks was released from hospital, although he will not return to training for a week or so in view of the gravity of the accident. It later transpired that he had fainted after a digestive problem caused by drinking cold water quickly before the game, and the blow on his head as he hit the ground caused him to swallow his tongue. Needless to say, the cold water bottle has been removed from the dressing room fridge.

Oscar was one of three changes to Paco Flores's side, with Cristóbal coming back for the injured Navas, and Toledo coming in at left back with Roger moving forward to take over from Arteaga on the left of midfield. There was still no place in the squad for Nishizawa, although he is gradually improving and may be given a chance in the near future. Numacia's manager Mariano García Remón was forced to make two changes, with his young striker Rubén Navarro still not recovered from an injury he picked up playing for Catalunya against Lithuania before Christmas, and Manel who injured himself in training, likely to be out for a month. The game was billed as a bottom of the table clash, with Numancia just climbing out of the bottom four last week with a victory against Celta and Espanyol, with four defeats in a row dropping to a place above them. The incident with Oscar seemed to leave everyone stunned, and for a few minutes the ball was moved around without much purpose. However in the twentieth minute Posse looped a pass over for Velamazán which Muñiz intercepted, only to see the ball roll past his own keeper. Numancia came forward, with Mora catching a free kick from Nagore and Iñaki shooting just wide, but Tamudo picked up a long through ball by Velamazán shortly before half time, and after leaving Muñiz for dead, placed the ball wide of Nuñez and in to the corner of the net.

At half time Paco Flores offered to substitute Roger, but with news that his brother was out of danger reaching them, he asked to stay on. García Remón did make a change though, bringing off the unfortunate Muñiz to bring on an extra attacking player Barbu. Soon afterwards Pacheta, applauded by the home crowd on his return to his old hunting ground, went close with a header, but after that they never troubled Mora's goal. Tamudo went close to adding to his tally with a shot which Nuñez tipped away for a corner, and Flores brought on the unsettled De Lucas in place of Martín Posse, who had himself replaced Oscar. In the end though three valuable points for Espanyol, who move up a very closely contested table to thirteenth. Osasuna's victory leaves Numancia once more down in the relegation spots on goal average, and they are looking to sign one or two players in the next couple of weeks to strengthen their side. With little money to do so they can only hope to pick up cast-offs, and once more need a small miracle to stay up. But then two years in a row may be a bit much to ask.