Evening all! Our second La Liga live commentary of the day comes from the Estadi Cornella-El Prat stadium as Espanyol welcome Levante
. The home side have been in impressive form in recent weeks, winning three of their last five to move out of the relegation zone. Levante have also been on a solid run of form, however, and have European football on their mind.
Let’s take a closer look at how both sides have fared in the league this season. As mentioned, Espanyol sit in 15th, four points outside of the bottom three. They have been slightly patchy at home this season, however, with four wins, three draws and four defeats from their 11 matches. Should they pick up all three points this evening, then they would move one point behind 13th-placed Athletic Bilbao.
Levante, meanwhile, currently sit in eighth position in the table, just two points outside of a Champions League place. They could move into fourth with victory this evening, with their rivals for a European place not playing until tomorrow. Their away form has been slightly patchy this season with three wins, two draws and six defeats from their 11 matches. Meanwhile, they have lost their last three away from home.
ESPANYOL: Casilla; Colotto, Moreno, Capdevilla, Mattioni; Forlin, Simao,Verdu, Baena; Garcia, Longo
LEVANTE: Munua; Lell, Navarro, Juanfran, Rodas; Diop, Iborra, Barkero, Garcia; Martins, El Zhar
Here we go then. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. Just a quick note on the main team news. Longo and Garcia start in attack for the home side, while Martins returns for Levante. The away side also name Barkero and Ruben Garcia
in an attacking lineup. The home side get the action underway on this mild evening in Spain.
Strong start from the home side as Longo picks up possession in the final third before combining with Garcia, but the striker just cannot release an effort on goal. Levante attempt to clear through Iborra, but the Spaniard presents the ball straight to Simao. High-tempo start from the home side as they flood forward once more.
Again Longo threatens as the Italian collects possession before driving into the box, but Lell is across to clear the danger. Levante attempt to break as Barkero looks for the pace of Martins, but Casilla is out to collect at the vital moment. End-to-end opening four minutes, but no real attempts on goal thus far.
A half-chance does arrive for the home side as Simao strikes a powerful free kick towards the top corner, but Munua steadies himself before collecting. You just get the feeling that the first goal in this match - if there indeed is one - will have a huge say on the final result. Levante force a corner down the other end moments later, but Casilla manages to palm over his own goal under pressure from Martins.
The resulting corner causes more problems in the home side's penalty area as Juanfran jumps with Capdevila, but the experienced Spaniard manages to clear. Their third corner in quick succession again causes unease in the box, but once more Espanyol stand firm to clear the danger.
Not a full house inside the stadium, but there is a decent atmosphere nonetheless. Espanyol attack immediately down the other end as Garcia combines with Verdu before driving into the box, but the ball is just ushered out for a goal kick. Just about 10 minutes on the clock and we still await the first real chance of the evening.
The home side want a penalty as Garcia drives into the penalty area, but the referee is not interested as he allows play to continue. It really has been a lively opening 12 minutes with both teams prepared to attack with pace and numbers. Another low cross into the Levante box causes problems, but the danger is cleared.
The match has just settled down in the past few minutes with both sides enjoying spells of possession. However, the quality of the final pass has been poor thus far with each defence remaining on top. Martins has been a threat for Levante, but with Espanyol's high-line, there has been a lack of room behind the defence.
Not too much to report in terms of chances thus far as both teams continue to enjoy periods with the ball. Again it's good work from Longo as the tall striker drives into the penalty area, but his cut-back towards Verdu is just short and the danger is cleared. Wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium at the moment.
Again it's good work from the home side as Simao darts past two challenges before firing a low cross into the box, but it just moves wide of the target at the final moment. Meanwhile, a host of fouls have just further slowed the tempo in the last couple of minutes.
Garcia is again involved for Espanyol as he collects a long pass from Verdu before driving into the box, but he just loses control at the vital moment and it moves out for a goal kick. I would love to be able to report that there has been a host of chances, but that has simply not been the case in the opening 20 minutes.
We have not seen too much from El Zhar in the opening stages of this match, with the former Liverpool midfielder unable to link with Martins. The latter is involved for Levante as he combines with Ruben Garcia before striking towards goal, but it takes a deflection before moving behind for a corner.
Another half-chance comes to the home side as Garcia strikes an effort from outside the box, but it just takes a deflection before falling to the feet of Longo, who cannot fashion a shot on goal. Meanwhile, the home supporters continue to make their voices known in this atmospheric stadium.
Suddenly it's all Espanyol as Simao drives into the penalty area before curling an effort towards the top corner, but it takes a big deflection before moving behind for a corner. The resulting set piece is taken by the Portuguese, but Lell is on hand to clear with a powerful header. Just about half of the opening period to play and the score remains 0-0.
Little to report in terms of chances as the match approaches the 30-minute mark. The home side continue to look the side most likely to open the scoring, but Levante are threatening on the counter. You just get the feeling that the first goal in this match - if there indeed is one - will have a huge say on the final result.
Slightly scrappy period of the match in the last few minutes with neither side taking too much care in possession. Meanwhile, a host of fouls have further slowed proceedings. A glorious chance does arrive as Longo finds Garcia in the box, but he somehow turns wide of the target from close range. That really should have been the opening goal.
Decent period for Levante in the last couple of moments as they force a couple of corners in quick succession. Juanfran also causes problems with a long throw, but Casilla is out to collect on each occasion. The match is just slightly one-paced at the moment with neither side forcing too many players forward.
Little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining and the home side continue to control proceedings with Simao and Garcia looking the most likely. Again the former is involved as he collects possession out wide before driving a low cross into the box, but it just would not fall for Baena, with Lell thumping clear.
Again it's good work from the home side as Verdu collects possession outside the box before beating two challenges, but once more he just cannot get his shot away. Meanwhile, the tempo is just slowed with Munua picking up a knock in a challenge with Garcia.
Slight handbags in the latter stages of the half as Verdu is felled just outside the penalty area. The resulting free kick is taken by Simao, but it is cleared for a corner. Little over five minutes of this half remaining and the home side have another chance to cause havoc from a free kick.
GOAL! Espanyol 1-0 Levante (Forlin)
The home side lead moments before the interval as Forlin meets a corner from Simao before thumping his header into the back of the net. That is a huge goal in the context of this match. In truth, Levante have not really offered anything in this first period.
Levante want a penalty down the other end as Martins is felled under a challenge from Capdevila, but the referee shakes his head. The end-to-end period of the match continues as Verdu strikes a powerful effort down the other end, but it just moves wide of the post.
It is understood that the opening goal has been awarded as an own-goal for Iborra. It did appear to take a big deflection on its route to goal. Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional one minute of stoppage time at the end of the half.
HALF-TIME: Espanyol 1-0 Levante
HALF-TIME: Espanyol 1-0 Levante
So there we have it. A fairly uneventful half is brought to an end with Espanyol leading 1-0 courtesy of an own-goal from David Navarro
late in the half. In fairness, they deserve to be ahead with Levante offering no attacking threat whatsoever.
Let's take a look at some statistics from the opening half of football. The home side have dominated the possession with 65%, while they have had four attempts to Levante's three. As it stands, the away side would miss the chance to move among the top four teams in the table.
Let's take a look at both benches for this evening. The home side have a host of attacking options in their squad with Martin Petrov, Stuani and Alfonso capable of influencing proceedings. Meanwhile, Levante have the likes of Juanlu, Pedro Rios and Michel on the sidelines.
Just a reminder of what we have to come this evening. Following the completion of this match we have action from Granada against Real Madrid. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we have live coverage from four of the five Spanish fixtures. Be sure to join us for that.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch ahead of kickoff. No changes for either side at the interval which is not all too surprising. Let's hope that we can keep all 22 players on the pitch in the second period, something which has been a rarity in Spain of late. Levante get the second half underway.
Early change for the home side as Longo is replaced by Stuani, better known as the 'man in the mask'. It is a strong start from the away side as Martins finds Barkero in the penalty area, but the midfielder's powerful header is pushed wide by Casilla. That is without question their best chance of the evening.
GOAL! Espanyol 1-1 Levante (Garcia)
Wow! Levante level this match as Colotto puts his side in all sorts of trouble with a poor header. Garcia had continued his run and had the composure to finish beyond Casilla. Javier Aguirre's look says it all as he shakes his head in disgust.
Espanyol attempt to move into the lead once more as Stuani wins his aerial battle with Navarro before clipping towards Garcia in the penalty area, but the Spanish striker just cannot steady himself and his effort moves high of the crossbar. I have a feeling that we could be in for a real treat in this second period.
The home supporters continue to raise their side in the early stages of this second period with a host of songs, although I could not tell you what exactly is being said. Again Stuani is involved as the powerful forwards drives into the penalty area, but he just loses control at the vital moment and the danger is cleared.
Pape Diop becomes the latest player to have his name taken for a challenge on Verdu, although there did not appear to be an awful lot in it. It has been all Espanyol since they conceded, but they have struggled to find that elusive final pass with Simao struggling to influence proceedings from a wide area.
Not too much to report in the past few minutes with Espanyol still comfortable in controlling the tempo of the match. But we have seen it all before from Levante this season, even in this match. They appear to be out of it, but somehow manage to score and pick up the result. I would not back against that happening this evening.
Extended spell of pressure from the home side as they continue to force the issue with a host of corners, but Levante have defended well thus far with Rodas the latest to clear the danger. They attempt to break with Martins, but the Nigerian just cannot gather under pressure and Moreno is across to clear for a throw.
It's good work from Garcia as the Espanyol striker evades two challenges, but Rodas comes across to foul the Spaniard. The resulting free kick is taken by Simao, but his effort is pushed over the crossbar by Muna. The corner is taken by the Portuguese, but once more the danger is cleared. Little over 30 minutes remaining and the score stays at 1-1.
Espanyol continue to look the most likely as Simao fires another searching cross towards Stuani, but the tall striker can only head wide of the target from a difficult angle. El Zhar finally bursts into life down the other end as he collects before striking from outside the box, but it just moves wide of the target.
It is a horror moment for Casilla as the Espanyol goalkeeper loses control at the vital moment, but luckily it moves behind for a corner and nothing worse. The resulting set piece is taken by El Zhar, but in keeping with his performance, the corners fails to beat the first man.
Espanyol take control once more as Simao drifts a high free kick towards the far post, but Munua comes out to clear at the vital moment. The resulting corner also causes problems in the box, but once more the danger is cleared. In truth, there has not been a lot of clear chances in the second period. But you do get the feeling that there is another goal in this match.
GOAL! Espanyol 2-1 Levante (Stuani)
Espanyol lead! It's wonderful work from Garcia as the Spaniard turns two defenders before firing a dangerous cross into the penalty area. Who is there to meet it? Stuani as the tall striker thumps his header into the back of the net. Wonderful combination between the front two.
Meanwhile, the away side make a change as Diop, who had already been booked, is replaced by Michel. Little over 20 minutes of football remaining and as it stands the home side will move further up the table.
GOAL! Espanyol 3-1 Levante (Garcia)
Well, that is game, set and match. Stuani turns provider this time as he finds Garcia in the penalty area, the Spaniard takes one touch before firing his effort into the bottom corner. Stunning couple of minutes from the forward pair. This one is over.
You just had the feeling that Levante would steal something in the latter stages of this match, but that is simply not the case. Espanyol have been much the better side since the word go this evening. Just a reminder that following the completion of this match we have action from Granada against Real Madrid.
The away side make a change as Valdo replaces Ruben Garcia. Meanwhile, El Zhar is also replaced by Rios. Little time for either of those players to make an impact in this match. The home side also make a change as Tejera replaces Baena.
Another change arrives for the home side as Martin Petrov, who will be familiar to Bolton Wanderers supporters, replaces Simao, who has been impressive in the second period. Little over 15 minutes of football remaining and bar a major collapse late on, Espanyol are heading for another three points.
Not too much to report in the last few minutes with the home side in total control of proceedings here. The home supporters have been wonderful this evening, even when the equaliser went in. Espanyol were in trouble in the early stages of this season, but they look a team capable of pushing up the table.
Half-chance for the home side to add their fourth as Garcia collects possession before driving into the penalty area, but Lell comes across to clear at the vital moment. Martins comes close with a long-range effort down the other end, but he can only fire wide of the post.
Again Martins bursts into life for the away side as he collects possession outside the box before turning and striking a powerful effort towards goal, but it just moves wide of the post. The home side attempt to advance through Garcia, but for once the Spaniard loses possession.
Another half-chance for the home side to add their fourth of the evening as Stuani drives past two challenges before firing a low cross into the box, but it just evades Garcia and moves out for a throw. A corner for the home side arrives moments later, but Lell heads clear.
The home supporters continue to make their voices known in the latter stages of this match as Garcia causes concern to Levante once more. Not too many away supporters have had the trip this evening, but they will not have been to impressed with what they have seen.
GOAL! Espanyol 3-2 Levante (Martins)
Game on! It's brilliant from Martins as the former Newcastle United striker collects a pass from Michel before firing his effort into the top corner. Little over two minutes of football remaining. Will we have late drama here?
The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional four minutes of football at the end of this match and we are into the first of those. It has been all Levante since they scored their second, but they have been unable to force the ball over the line.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for the away side to level as Rios finds Michel in the penalty area, but the danger is just cleared at the vital moment. What an opportunity for Levante to level this match. Just about one minute of stoppage time remaining.
FULL-TIME: Espanyol 3-2 Levante
So there we have it. Espanyol record their fourth consecutive home win to continue their surge up the table. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to remain with us for action from Granada against Real Madrid. Until then!