Evening all! Our penultimate La Liga commentary of the evening comes from the El Prat as Espanyol welcome Valencia. As mentioned, Espanyol recovered from 2-0 behind to secure a draw against Celta Vigo on Monday, but Valencia started their campaign with three points in a 1-0 win over a much-changed Malaga outfit.
In terms of the recent meetings between the two sides, Valencia have just shaded it with two wins from the last five, with a further two ending in a share of the spoils. The corresponding match last season ended in a 3-3 draw, but Valencia did pick up all three points on their own patch in November. That said, Espanyol’s last home win over Valencia was a comprehensive one – a 4-0 success in April 2012.
When Javier Aguirre took charge of Espanyol in November 2012, the club were languishing in the bottom three of La Liga. The experienced Mexican performed miracles in the second part of the campaign, however, with the 54-year-old leading them to a comfortable 13th-place finish. Valencia, meanwhile, finished fifth in the previous campaign, just one point off Real Sociedad.
ESPANYOL: Casilla; Colotto, Moreno, Fuentes, Lopez; Simao, Sanchez, Lopez; Garcia, Stuani, Pizzi
VALENCIA: Alves; Mathieu, Rami, Costa, Pereira; Fuego, Banega, Feghouli, Michel; Postiga, Jonas
So there we have it. Three-pronged attack for the home side this evening with Sergio Garcia, Christian Stuani
and Pizzi all selected. Meanwhile, there are also starts for Simao and Javi Lopez. Valencia, meanwhile, have Jonas and Feghouli back in their starting XI, but Jonathan Viera drops to the bench. Right, the home side get the action underway at the El Prat.
CHANCE! Good grief what a start from the home side. Pizzi comes close inside one minute with an effort from close range, before Simao just turns wide of the post after good work from Garcia. Let's hope that the opening two minutes is a sign of things to come. Valencia just have not had time to find their feet here.
Far from a full house inside the stadium this evening, but there is a strong atmosphere. Valencia have just started to find their feet in terms of possession with Michel and Banega enjoying possession in the middle of midfield. With the personnel on display this evening, I would be astounded if we did not see a host of goals.
It's good work from Stuani as the Espanyol forward turns on the edge of the box, but he is chopped down by Michel. The resulting free kick is whipped into the danger area by Simao, but Javi Lopez is on hand to clear the danger at the vital moment. Hardly time to take a breath in what has been a high-tempo six minutes of football.
CHANCE! Another wonderful chance for the home side as Pizzi leads a three-on-two situation, but there are no takers on his low cross into the box. Moments later another opportunity arrives as Colotto meets a cross from Garcia, but somehow he heads wide of the target. Espanyol could and perhaps should be ahead here.
Valencia just cannot get out of their own half at the moment as the pressure from Espanyol continues to build. Espanyol struggled in the early stages of last season, but I would be astounded if that was the case this time around. The addition of Pizzi in attack has complemented the guile of Garcia and the power of Stuani. Valencia have not had an answer in the early stages of this one.
Finally Valencia create an opening following a corner from Benaga, but Costa can only fire his header into the arms of the goalkeeper. Another corner follows moments later, but Colotto is on hand to make the clearance.
GOAL! Espanyol 0-1 Valencia (Postiga)
Valencia have the lead entirely against the run of play as Jonas finds Postiga, who fires a low effort into the bottom corner. That is the reason why they secured his services from Real Zaragoza this summer. It is harsh on Espanyol, who have dominated thus far.
It is a cliché, but goals change games. Espanyol utterly dominated the early stages of this one, but now they cannot get a kick with Valencia dominating the possession. Again Postiga is involved as the Portuguese combines with Jonas, but the Brazilian's effort is wide of the post. Where has the opening 13 minutes of this match gone? It has flown past.
First sign of frustration from the home supporters as Simao's through pass is easily collected by the Valencia goalkeeper. The away side are on the attack moments later with Jonas, but Feghouli is tugged back when attempting to collect a pass from the Brazilian. Who needs Roberto Soldado?
Half-chance for the home side as Simao collects possession in a wide area before delivering a low cross into the box, but Rami is on hand to make the clearance. Pizzi is again involved moments later as he strikes an effort from outside the box, but it deflects wide of the post. Still 1-0 to Valencia with 18 minutes on the clock.
Half-chance for Espanyol once more as Postiga handles outside the box. The resulting free kick is delivered into the area by Simao, but Rami is defensively solid. Stuani squares to Pizzi inside the box moments later, but the offside flag is raised. What a 20 minutes of football we have had in the El Prat.
In case you have just joined us, there has already been a La Liga fixture this evening, with Elche holding Real Sociedad to a 1-1 draw. The action does not finish with this one, however, with Villarreal welcoming Real Valladolid in the 10pm start. Not too much to report in the last couple of moments with both sides guilty of losing possession in midfield.
Another half-chance for the home side as David Lopez
collects possession in a wide area before delivering a cross towards Stuani, but once more Rami is on hand to clear the danger. Neither side is too interested in defending at the moment as both flood each attack with numbers. That is creating an enthralling spectacle, but I am not sure both managers would like it to be so open.
Good spell for the away side in the last couple of moments with Jonas seeing plenty of the ball in and around the Espanyol box, but he has been unable to find that elusive pass in the final third. Stuani again causes concern down the other end as he meets a cross from Simao, but Costa manages to deflect his effort behind.
The aerial bombardment continues from Espanyol with Simao and Pizzi delivering high balls into the box on every opportunity, but Rami and Costa have been equal to the danger thus far. Espanyol force their third corner of the match moments later, but the danger is cleared before Valencia launch a counter down the other end.
CHANCE! Wonderful opportunity for Garcia to level the scores as the Espanyol captain meets a cross from Simao, but he can only plant his header wide of the post when he should have found the back of the net. How on earth are the home side losing this match?!
Stuani is again the danger for the home side as he collects possession outside the box before thumping an effort towards goal, but it was always moving high and wide of the target. Bit of afters between Garcia and Costa following a high challenge, but the referee calms proceedings without taking action. Little over 10 minutes of the half remaining.
GOAL! Espanyol 1-1 Valencia (Lopez)
Espanyol level with 32 minutes on the clock as David Lopez rises highest in the box before thumping a powerful header into the back of the net. It is certainly deserved having utterly dominated the opening 33 minutes of football on their home patch.
Half-chance for Valencia to regain the lead as Mathieu meets a bouncing ball outside the box, but he can only thump his effort wide of the post. Espanyol are on the counter moments later with Garcia, who finds the run of Pizzi, but his effort is straight into the arms of the goalkeeper. My word what a match!
The corner count continues to rise for Espanyol as Simao forces a couple in quick succession, but the first is headed behind his own crossbar by Rami before Garcia turns a Stuani effort wide of the post. Valencia could really do with the interval at the moment with Espanyol getting closer and closer to their second. Little over five minutes of the first period remaining.
CHANCE! Opportunity for the away side this time as Postiga beats Moreno before delivering a dangerous cross to the back post, but Banega is just beaten in the air by Moreno, who had tracked the run of the midfielder. The atmosphere inside the stadium is just electric as we enter the final couple of minutes of the first period.
CHANCE! Espanyol again come close to scoring their second as Simao beats his full-back before delivering a dangerous cross into the box, but Rami just beats Stuani to the ball, conceding their sixth corner as a result. The resulting set piece is delivered under the crossbar, but Alves manages to palm clear.
Couple of opportunities for Valencia to break in the last few moments, but their lack of pace in the final third has made it difficult there is no question about that. Postiga is not getting any younger and as good as Jonas is, he isn't going to outpace anyone. The tempo of this half has not dropped since the very first moment, with the two sides still level at 1-1 with 45 minutes on the clock.
HALF-TIME: Espanyol 1-1 Valencia
So there we have it. The referee brings the half to an end with the two sides level at 1-1. Bit of afters between both sets of players as each departs the pitch, but the referee does calm proceedings. The root of the problem occurred in the final moment of the half when Simao appeared to poke Rami in the eye, with the former picking up a yellow card for his troubles.
BENCH WATCH: The home side have a number of options on their bench in the shape of Lanzarote, Bifouma and German. Meanwhile, Valencia have the likes of Juan Bernat, Jonathan Viera, Guardado and Sergio Canales in reserve. I suspect that we will see changes as the second period gathers pace.
In truth, Valencia were lucky to take the lead when they did, with Espanyol dominant for the entirety of the first period. It is so delicately poised with another 45 minutes to play. Just a reminder that following this match we have action from the final La Liga commentary of the evening as Villarreal welcome Real Valladolid.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. There have been no changes for either side at the interval, which is not too surprising at this stage of proceedings. You just get the feeling that the next goal - if there indeed is one - could be vital this evening. Valencia get the half underway.
Let's hope that this half brings the same excitement as the first. I have seen a lot of Spanish football over the past few years, but I cannot remember a half quite like that. The intensity from both sides was just incredible. We are level at 1-1, but it could have been 4-1 to Espanyol there is no question about that.
GOAL! Espanyol 2-1 Valencia (Stuani)
Espanyol take the lead with 47 minutes on the clock as Stuani rises highest in the box before thumping a powerful header into the back of the net. Some start from the home side. They have turned the match around in the early stages of the half.
Much to ponder for Valencia, who have been second best since the very first moment this evening. Banega attempts to take matters into his own hands as he collects possession in the Espanyol half before sliding a pass towards Postiga, but the striker does not have the legs to take him beyond the home side's defence.
Better from the away side in the last couple of moments with Michel and Fuego starting to see more of the ball in the middle of midfield, but we have seen little from the likes of Feghouli and Jonas thus far. There is no out ball for Valencia, meanwhile, which Roberto Soldado certainly provided last season. They have to come up with something different.
Slightly untidy period of the match in the last couple of minutes with the referee forced to intervene following a number of late challenges from both sides. You just get the feeling that there is a red card waiting to happen as the intensity continues. Little over 35 minutes of football remaining in this La Liga encounter.
The tempo from Espanyol has just dropped in the last few moments with Valencia starting to enjoy more of the ball in the opposing half. You just get the feeling that if Espanyol score again, then it would be game over for Valencia, but the away side would fancy themselves if they could level in the next 10 minutes or so.
CHANCE! Wonderful opportunity for Banega as the Argentine bursts into the box before thumping an effort towards the top corner, but it was always rising high and wide of the crossbar. End-to-end football as Pizzi has an effort down the other end, but it moves wide of the post.
Right, little under 30 minutes of football remaining at the El Prat. The tempo has certainly dropped in the last 10 minutes or so, from the home side at least with Valencia enjoying their best spell of the match. However, you just wonder if they have enough on the pitch to open the door.
Slightly untidy couple of minutes with the referee forced to intervene following a number of late challenges. A half-chance arrives for the away side moments later as Costa meets a deep free kick from Jonas, but his effort moves wide of the post. Meanwhile, it appears that the home side are preparing to make their first change.
Indeed the change is made as Pizzi is replaced by Abraham. Valencia also make a change moments later as Michel is replaced by Juan Bernat. You just get the feeling that there is another goal in this match, but it is difficult to predict for who. Valencia are certainly the team in the ascendancy.
Almost an opportunity for Jonas as the Brazilian collects a through pass from Postiga, but Moreno is across to clear at the vital moment. Again Valencia come close as they work the ball from left to right before Postiga strikes an effort from outside the box, but it was always moving wide of the post.
End-to-end football in the last couple of moments with Stuani coming close with an effort from distance before a bursting run from Mathieu creates some space in the Espanyol box, but he cannot find Jonas under pressure from Javi Lopez. Little under 20 minutes of football remaining at the El Prat.
There is almost a sense of nervousness inside the stadium at the moment with Espanyol dropping deeper and deeper. Just a reminder that the home side began their season with a 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo last Monday, while Valencia were 1-0 winners over Malaga at the Mestalla. There appears to be movement on both benches as the match enters its final 15 minutes. Still 2-1 to Espanyol courtesy of that header from Stuani.
Indeed the change is made for Valencia as the ineffective Feghouli is replaced by former Real Madrid midfielder Sergio Canales. Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last few minutes, meanwhile, with Espanyol comfortable in possession. The home side follow with a change of their own as Garcia is replaced by Bifouma.
A wonderful free kick from Canales presents Valencia with the opportunity to test Casilla, but the Espanyol goalkeeper just manages to beat Mathieu to the ball, clearing the French defender out in the process. It does not look too clever for Mathieu, whose head appeared to clash with the knee of the home side's stopper. Let's hope that it is nothing serious.
The good news is that Mathieu has indeed returned to his feet and it appears that he will be fit to continue. For now, the away side are playing with 10 men as Espanyol attempt to make their numerical advantage pay dividends. Little over 10 minutes of football remaining on this warm night in Spain.
The tempo has certainly dropped in the last 10 minutes or so with a number of late challenges and injuries meaning that neither side can gain any sort of tempo to their passing. Not that Espanyol will mind with their lead in tact as we enter the latter stages. They look to their bench once more as the injured and possible match winner Stuani leaves the field for Lanzarote.
Strange defending from Costa as the Valencia skipper pushes Lanzarote to the floor just outside the penalty area, with the former gaining a yellow card for his troubles. The away side attempt to launch a counter moments later with Jonas threading a pass towards Postiga, but Casilla is out to clear at the vital moment.
Plenty of pace and attacking invention from the home side in the last couple of moments with the fresh legs of Bifouma, Lanzarote and Abraham allowing them to move forward as a team. Valencia look to their bench for the third and final time this evening with Guardado entering in place of Mathieu, who appeared to still be suffering from that clash with Casilla.
Valencia have upped the tempo in the last couple of moments with Jonas attempting to create some space outside the box, but Espanyol have been defensively sound in the second period. However, you get the feeling that there will still be one last chance left in this match. On the balance of play, it is difficult to argue that Espanyol do not deserve to be leading.
GOAL! Espanyol 3-1 Valencia (Bifouma)
Espanyol make sure of the points in the final minute as Bifouma bursts into the box before firing a wonderful effort into the top corner. That is some way to finish this match. In truth, it is well deserved for the home team, who have been the better side over the course of the 90 minutes.
The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional four minutes and we are indeed into the third of those. A half-chance arrives for Valencia as Jonas strikes an effort from outside the box, but it was always rising high and wide of the crossbar. It has not been one of the Brazilian's better days that is for certain.
FULL-TIME: Espanyol 3-1 Valencia
So there we have it. Espanyol move onto four points for the season courtesy of a comfortable 3-1 win over Valencia. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to remain with us for Villarreal against Valladolid. Until then!