First Division - Day 30

Real Sociedad 1 - Espanyol 0

Real Sociedad: Westerveld; López Rekarte, Jauregui, Kvarme, Aranzábal; Xabi Alonso, Aranburu (Gurrutxaga 85'); Tayfun, Khokhlov, De Pedro (Idiakez 70'); Kovacevic (De Paula 85'). 4-2-3-1.
Espanyol: Mora; Navas, Lopo, Soldevilla, Ricardo Cavas; Paulo Sousa (Morales 50'), Alex Fernández (Munteanu 46'); De Lucas, Palencia (Pacheco 60'), Roger; Tamudo. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Real Sociedad: López Rekarte, Jauregui, Khokhlov for Luiz Alberto, Nihat, De Paula / Espanyol: Palencia for Pacheco.

1-0. 18. Kovacevic. Took De Pedro through ball and ran round Mora to score.

Real Sociedad proved the old Spanish adage, new manager, sure victory, beating Espanyol by a single goal to move out of the relegation spots. Junior team manager Roberto Olabe took over as caretaker of the San Sebastian side after John Toshack was surprisingly sacked earlier in the week, and he stuck more or less to the same formation, only changing a couple of players from the Welsh manager's first choice side. López Rekarte returned at right back and Khokhlov was drafted back in for Nihat, and after Luiz Alberto failed a late fitness test, Olabe brought in midfielder Juaregui into the centre of defence. The Real players obviously wanted to impress their new manager, and they bore down on Mora's goal inspired by a De Pedro whose recent form has earned him a recall to the Spanish squad. With just over a quarter of an hour gone he picked out Kovacevic, the ex Sheffield Wednesday and Juventus striker receiving the ball in what looked like an offside position to round the keeper and score. A minute later Kovacevic got the ball in the net again but this time his strike was incorrectly ruled out by Rodríguez Santiago for offside. The referee then ignored a possible penalty by Mora on the Yugoslav forward just before the break to round off a bad day.

Espanyol hardly responded in the first 45 minutes, a Roger shot being the only effort which remotely troubled Westerveld, and the home side kept up the pressure after the break. Flores changed his two anchor men Paulo Sousa and Alex early in the second half, the Portuguese international limping off with an injury which could keep him out for a couple of weeks or so, but the new additions fared no better than their predecessors. Only a couple of good saves from Mora and some off-target shooting by the Basques kept the scoreline from moving on, and in the end Olabe settled for a win and played it safe, adding an extra defender for the final few minutes. Real climb up three places in the table, above Las Palmas and Zaragoza on goal average, and they look on line once again for their late escape act. Espanyol drop a place to tenth after their first defeat in eight games.