Osvaldo double denies Atletico
Dani Osvaldo scored a brace as Espanyol twice came from behind to frustrate Atletico Madrid 2-2 in an entertaining Primera Division clash at Cornella this evening.
Koke gave Atletico the lead after just 78 seconds following some dreadful defending by the hosts, but Osvaldo levelled with a deflected strike later in the half. Sergio Aguero then made it 2-1 early into the second half with a neat finish, but Osvaldo equalised for a second time with a fine header nine minutes later.
Both of these sides were hoping to boost their European aspirations with a win in this match. Atletico began the day in seventh place, with Espanyol a point worse off in eighth, and both teams knew a win would mean a return to the top six at what is a crucial stage of the season.
Espanyol had lost eight of their last 11 league games, but coach Mauricio Pochettino claimed in the build-up to this match that his side's defensive problems were a thing of the past.
Koke strikes early
He was left to rue those words after just 78 seconds, though, after Espanyol failed to clear danger in their area and full-back Ernesto Galan gifted the ball to the unmarked Koke to slot home easily past a floored Carlos Kameni.
Espanyol slowly grew in confidence after that and Jose Callejon was inches wide with a low drive after 24 minutes. A minute later, Aguero raced clear at the other end and should have scored, but Kameni got a vital touch to keep his side in it.
And Espanyol hit back eight minutes before the interval, when Osvaldo took advantage of uncertainty in the Atletico defence and ran onto Joan Verdu's long pass before blasting a powerful effort towards goal, which deflected in off defender Luis Perea.
Osvaldo earns Espanyol point
Osvaldo came close to a second moments later, but Atletico went back in front after 49 minutes. Again, it was a calamitous goal from Espanyol's perspective as Callejon's wayward pass was intercepted by Aguero, who sprinted clear and beat Kameni with a neat chip.
But back came Espanyol again and Osvaldo was the inspiration once more as he beat De Gea with a brilliant header from Verdu's measured cross. Both sides had chances after that, but the two teams seemed content with the result in the end and the tempo dropped in the closing stages.
Neither side was able to return to the top six, but Espanyol at least showed character to avoid another defeat, while Atletico negotiated a tricky away fixture without injured striker Diego Forlan. Quique Sanchez Flores' side, still seventh, are now level with sixth-placed Sevilla with six games remaining, with Espanyol still a point further back in eighth.