Espanyol put four past Valencia
Espanyol recorded their first win in six games in some style as two goals in either half saw them trounce Valencia 4-0 at Cornellà-El Prat. Cristian Gomez opened the scoring with a neat finish from Sergio Garcia's cut-back and Joan Verdu added the second four minutes later with an imperious strike from outside the box.
Alvaro Vasquez came off the bench to slot home from another Garcia assist just before the hour mark and Kalu Uche rounded off a perfect afternoon for Mauricio Pochettino's side when he finished Victor Sanchez's fine through ball ten minutes from time. Victory moves Espanyol up to 45 points, just one off Osasuna in sixth, whilst Valencia failed to extend their two-point advantage over Malaga in the battle for UEFA Champions League football next season.
Cristian Alvarez had been recalled by Pochettino after four months out through injury and the Argentinian keeper had to be alert to hold Tino Costa's drive early on. Espanyol then had a sustained period of pressure but had not really troubled Vicente Guaita until they went in front on 25 minutes as Garcia did brilliantly down the right and as he got to the by-line he picked out the late arriving Gomez to fire into the roof of the net.
Four minutes later it was two as Verdu lined up a shot from the edge of the area and arrowed his effort high into Guaita's top right-hand corner. As Valencia pushed forward for a way back into the game they only contrived to allow the hosts more space on the break and Garcia could have made it three eight minutes before half-time as Vladimir Weiss' cross-come-shot fell to the former Barcelona man but he could only turn his effort into the side-netting.
Unai Emery introduced Aritz Aduriz and Sofiane Feghouli in an attempt to turn things around in the second half, but Espanyol's pressing continued to hassle the visitors and eventually forced an error that led to the third goal. Guaita was put under pressure by Alvaro and after his clearance was intercepted by Garcia, he squared for the Spanish U-21 international to sweep home his first goal since February.
Alvaro then had a decent claim for a penalty turned down as he tumbled under Sergio Canales' challenge and Verdu was denied from another long-range effort by Guaita's only save of the day 20 minutes from time.
However, the hosts' fourth goal of the day did arrive when Victor Sanchez's lovely through-ball found Uche and he prodded the ball past Guaita and into the bottom corner. Raul Baena missed a glorious opportunity to make it five in stoppage time, but it mattered little as Espanyol moved back into the pack chasing a European place.