|First Division - Day 22|
Espanyol 0 - Celta 1
Cristóbal, Soldevilla, Rotchen, Toledo; Velamazán, Sergio, Galca,
Roger (Lardín 78'); Oscar (Martín Posse 80'), Tamudo. 4-4-2.
Team changes: Espanyol: Oscar for Martín Posse / Celta: Velasco, Jayo, Gustavo López, Tomás, Catanha for Coira, Giovanella, Karpin, Mostovoi, McCarthy.
It has not been a good week for Espanyol. First of all they were knocked out of the cup by Barcelona, and then they lost their three match run of victories here thanks to an injury time goal by Catanha. Celta on the other hand have had one of their best spells in some time, qualify for the semi-finals of the cup against Mallorca and taking the three points in this match somewhat against the run of play. Celta's recent recovery has saved the head of their manager Víctor Fernández, and with their fourth league game now without defeat they are now nine points above the drop zone in fifteenth place. With an important UEFA cup game to come on Thursday, and having already played 40 games this season since they started in the Intertoto cup in July, Víctor decided to rest some of his key players, with Giovanella and Mostovoi on the bench and Karpin left out of the squad completely. Jayo made his first start for his new team, and Velasco, Gustavo López and Juanfran returned from suspension. Cavallero kept his place in goal, and he was applauded on to the pitch by his ex supporters, grateful for his contribution to their cup final victory last season.
Both teams looked tired after their midweek exertions, and the match was lacking in scoring chances. Only Velamazán for the locals showed any form, but after scoring four in the last two league games this was not his day, Cavallero saving twice from the Sydney silver medal winner in the first half. Prados García turned down penalty appeals by both sides, probably conscious of the fact that his name has appeared recently as the leading penalty giver in Spain, well ahead of his colleagues. He also correctly disallowed a goal by Edu in Celta's only real attack at goal in the first 45 minutes.
After the break things got worse, with the only moment of action being Mora's spectacular save from Vagner. The keeper cut his hand down to the bone against the goalpost without knowing it, but it would have made no difference anyway as Catanha made a goal out of nothing in almost the last kick of the match, picking up a loose ball on the edge of the area to shoot in off the far post, his second match winner in three days. There was no time to react, and Espanyol see their objective of another season in Europe a little bit further away as they drop to ninth. Celta must change their chip now, and prepare themselves for Stuttgart. Their season will not end until late June, but right now they are still in three competitions. Víctor can start to breath more easily.