Evening all! Week five in La Liga begins in Pamplona as Osasuna welcome Elche. The home side currently sit bottom of the table having suffered four straight defeats, while Elche, who were promoted from the Segunda Division last season, sit 15th in the table. This is the type of match that both managers will feel that they have to win.
Osasuna have been in the top flight of Spanish football for the last 13 years, but there is a genuine concern that this could be the year when it all comes to an end. They managed to secure their league status with a 16th-place finish last season, but their struggles in the latter part of the season were there for all to see.
Of their 33 league goals last season, Kike Sola scored nine of them. They will not be able to call upon the 27-year-old's services this season, however, with the Spaniard departing to join Athletic Bilbao this summer. Aside from three top-half finishes over their last 13 seasons in La Liga, Osasuna have mainly been a mid-table team in the division, but not one that was ever really threatened with relegation.
They opened their campaign with a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Granada, before Athletic Bilbao recorded a 2-0 win at San Mames. Their most disappointing result of the season followed as they lost 3-0 on their home patch to newly-promoted Villarreal, before Getafe secured all the points with a 2-1 win last weekend.
OSASUNA: Fernandez; Damia, Loties, Arribas, Oriol; Sisi, Loe, Silva, Torres; Armenteros, Riera
ELCHE: Herrera; Lomban, Suarez, Albacer, Botia; Sanchez, Perez, Stevanovic, Fidel; Coro, Boakye
So there we have it. No real surprises in the Osasuna XI this evening with Oriol Riera
once more leading the line alongside Emiliano Armenteros
, but Marc Bertran continues on the bench. Elche, meanwhile, hand Miroslav Stevanovic a start in midfield alongside Ruben Perez. Plenty of attacking personnel on the pitch this evening.
Elche have made a solid start to life in La Liga, but are without a win thus far. They opened their campaign with a surprise 3-0 defeat at Rayo Vallecano, but they did pick up a credible 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad one week later. Another two draws have followed since with a 2-2 draw at Almeria, before they played out a stalemate with Real Valladolid last weekend.
They earned the right to play La Liga football this season after storming to the Segunda Division title in the previous campaign. They won 23 of their 42 matches, securing 82 points in the process, a total which left them five points clear of nearest challenges Villarreal. However, they have not played top-flight football since 1988.
They have scored just three times in their first four games this season, which is an indication of their troubles. Last season, they scored just 54 times in their 42 matches, which was just 14 more than Huesca, who were relegated. They have conceded five times this season, but three of those came on the opening weekend of the campaign.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch ahead of kickoff. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. Just about time for my pre-match prediction - neither side has been particularly impressive thus far, but I expect Osasuna to pick up their first three points of the season this evening.
Just a reminder of the main team news. Riera continues in attack for Osasuna alongside Armenteros, while Loe also starts in an attacking lineup for the home side. Elche, meanwhile, include Boakye and Coro in attack. Right, Osasuna get the action underway on this warm evening in Spain.
Not a full house inside the stadium this evening, but there is a strong atmosphere with the home supporters hopeful of seeing their side pick up their first La Liga points of the season. Bright start for the hosts as Silva forces a corner down the right - Roberto Torres's delivery causes all sorts of problems in the box, but the referee is on hand to award a free kick to Elche for a late challenge from Loe.
CHANCE! Wonderful opportunity for the away side as Stevanovic breaks the offside trap before advancing into the Osasuna box. He attempts to slide it to Coro, who would have had a tap in, but Loties just manages to make a challenge at the vital moment. End-to-end football in the opening four minutes as Osasuna break immediately down the other end with the pacey Loe.
The early indications are that we will see plenty of goals this evening with neither side too worried about committing players forward. Stevanovic is again involved for the away side as he whips a dangerous cross into the box, but Fernandez is on hand to make the save. Joan Oriol attempts to release Riera down the other end moments later, but Suarez is across to make the challenge.
Not too difficult to see what the gameplan for Elche is this evening with Boakye playing on the final shoulder. A number of passes have been played beyond the Osasuna defence in the last couple of moments, but twice the striker has been caught offside, while Fernandez has also been quick off his line. Still no goals with eight minutes on the clock in Pamplona.
Slight stoppage in play as Loe collides with Perez in the middle of the park, but both rise to their feet moments later. The free kick goes the way of Elche, but Fran Escriba's side decide to work it short, allowing Osasuna to get men behind the ball. Neither side has really settled thus far as each continues to enjoy periods of possession.
The referee has been more involved than he would like in the last few moments as the challenges continue to arrive from both sets of players. Elche have just started to take control of the possession, meanwhile, with Perez and Sanchez seeing plenty of the ball. You can almost sense the nervousness inside the stadium. Osasuna simply have to get a result this evening.
Good pressure from the home side in the last couple of moments as they force two corners in quick succession. The second presents a half-chance to Loe, but he can only flick his header wide of the post. Elche attempt to launch an immediate counter down the other end with Boakye, but the striker is left isolated with three defenders. High-tempo 15 minutes of football in this La Liga encounter.
Armenteros takes matters into his own hands for Osasuna as he collects possession outside the box before attempting to find the top corner, but his effort was always moving high and wide of the post. Plenty of attacking intent from both sides, but the overall quality in the final third has not been of the required standard. Both of these sides will surely be among the relegation scrap come the end of the season.
GOAL! Osasuna 1-0 Elche (Armenteros)
Osasuna take the lead with 16 minutes on the clock as Armenteros collects a loose pass from Torres before advancing into the box and firing a powerful effort into the bottom corner. Just what the doctor ordered for the home side. What a goal that could be in the context of their season.
Neither side had really done enough to deserve to be leading at this stage of the match, but Osasuna have taken the first real opportunity of the night. However, from what we have seen thus far, I would be astounded if it were the last of the goals in Pamplona.
Another opportunity for the home side as Torres finds some space outside the box before striking a powerful effort towards goal, but Herrera is on hand to make the save. The home side's pressure continues as they force two corners in quick succession, but Torres can only flick wide of the post from inside the box.
Elche just cannot keep hold of the ball at the moment with Osasuna firmly in the driving seat. The home supporters appreciate the effort as they continue to raise the atmosphere, which is certainly helping the players. Elche just need to weather the storm in the next few moments. They have shown that they can cause problems of their own with the pace of Boakye.
It's good work from Fidel as the Elche winger combines with Botia before driving a deep cross into the box, but Stevanovic cannot make contact under pressure from Oriol. The resulting corner creates havoc in the Osasuna box, but following a period of pinball the danger is cleared. Fantastic excitement with 26 minutes on the clock in week five's opening fixture.
Elche have certainly pulled their way back into this match with the likes of Perez and Fidel starting to have more of a say in the middle of the pitch. However, they are short of ideas with the through pass towards Boakye not always available. The home side, meanwhile, continue to commit numbers forward each time they break. Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining.
A late challenge from Loe presents the away side with a free kick just outside the penalty area. Coro delivers into the box, but it is easy pickings for Fernandez, much to the frustration of his teammates. Coro is involved again moments later, but he cannot find a white shirt under pressure from Loties. Where has the opening 31 minutes of this match gone? It has flown past.
CHANCE! Elche's best opportunity of the evening falls to Sanchez as the Colombian thumps an effort from close range, but Fernandez is across to make a fine save. The goalkeeper parries into his own box, but the offside flag prevents Coro from slotting home from close range. Elche are still in this match make no mistake about that.
I suspect that neither manager will be too happy about how open the match is, but it is creating a wonderful spectacle. Sometimes teams can cancel each other out, but that has not been the case thus far. Neither team is too interested in keeping it compact, with a number of players breaking rank at every opportunity. Little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining.
Spectacular effort from Boakye as the Elche striker thumps one from 30 yards, but Hernandez is on hand to palm over his own crossbar. The pressure continues from the resulting corner, but Osasuna manage to clear their lines. If this were a boxing match, then Elche would be winning on points.
Not too much to report in terms of opportunities in the last couple of moments with both sides guilty of losing possession in the final third. A mistake from Sanchez almost presents Silva with a one-on-one situation with Herrera, but the referee awards a free kick, much to the frustration of the home supporters, who have been fully behind their team this evening.
Osasuna continue to concede free kicks around their own penalty area. However, Elche have been unable to provide a meaningful delivery thus far. Suarez's set piece causes problems moments later as it presents Sanchez with a shooting chance, but his effort was high and wide of the crossbar. Little over two minutes of the first period remaining.
Elche have just about shaded the possession with 53% as we enter the final minute of the half. The away side continue to pass and probe in and around the Osasuna box, but they have been unable to provide the telling pass thus far. A dipping free kick from Fidel threatens to find the top corner moments later, but Fernandez is across to make the save.
HALF-TIME: Osasuna 1-0 Elche
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to an end with Osasuna leading courtesy of a fine finish from Armenteros. As it stands, the home side are heading for their first three points of the season. However, you just get the feeling that we have not seen the last of the goals in Pamplona.
STATISTICS: Elche have had 56% of the possession, but they have managed one attempt fewer (four) than the home side. The referee has been forced to issue two yellow cards, but it has not been a particularly dirty half of football. Elche's pass success rate of 76% has been superior to Osasuna's (70%).
BENCH WATCH: The home side certainly have attacking options on their bench in the shape of Punal, Nunez and Manuel. Meanwhile, Elche have the likes of Manu del Moral, Tono and Cisma in reserve. It is the type of match that could ultimately be decided from the bench.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. No changes for either side at the interval. You just get the feeling that the next goal - if there indeed is one - could ultimately decide the final result. Elche get the second period underway.
Good start to the second period from Elche with the likes of Perez and Fidel seeing plenty of the ball. Too often they looked for the run of Boakye in the first half, but that pass could work in the latter stages as the Osasuna legs begin to tire. Silva looks for the run of Loe down the other end moments later, but Lomban is across to quell the danger.
GOAL! Osasuna 2-0 Elche (Riera)
Osasuna double their lead in the early stages of the second period as Riera taps home from close range. A fine challenge from Lomban denied the striker with his first effort, but Riera was on hand to slip the rebound past Herrera. They are on their way to three points this evening.
I suspect the gameplan for Elche would have been to keep it tight in the early stages of the second period. Well, that failed. However, they have demonstrated that they can cause Osasuna problems this evening. Hardly time to take a breath at the moment with both sides committing players to each attack.
A poor challenge from Loe leads to the referee taking the Osasuna midfielder's name. The resulting free kick is taken by Albacer, but Fernandez is quickly across his goal to make the save. If Elche can cut the deficit to 2-1, then Osasuna's nerves would certainly start to show. Little under 40 minutes of normal time to play in this La Liga encounter.
It's bright work from Riera once more as the Spaniard finds some space down the right before delivering a dangerous cross into the box, but Herrera is on hand to claim under pressure from Torres. Elche are down the other end moments later with Stevanovic, but his pass towards Fidel was always asking too much of the Spaniard.
Elche continue to force the issue as Fidel's low cross is cleared by Damia. The resulting corner is met by the head of Suarez, but his effort is high of the crossbar. Osasuna attempt to break down the other end with Riera, but Lomban's pace manages to quell the pressure. Little over 30 minutes of normal time remaining.
We are getting to the stage in the match where both managers will be contemplating changes. Elche certainly have options on their bench and I expect substitutions to be made sooner rather than later. Boakye is again the target for Fidel moments later, but the striker is caught offside once more.
Half-chance for Boakye as the Elche striker meets a cross from Perez, but his header was straight into the arms of the goalkeeper. Another opportunity arrives for the away side moments later, but there are no takers on Fidel's low cross into the box. Moments later they make their first change with Stevanovic replaced by Manu del Moral.
Not too much for the home supporters to get excited about in the last few moments with their side just attempting to soak up the pressure from Elche, who have improved since falling 2-0 behind. You just get the feeling that one goal for the away side would change the entire atmosphere inside the stadium. There is still plenty of time for things to change.
One-way traffic with 68 minutes on the clock as Elche continue to pen the home side into their own penalty box. But they have been unable to find that elusive pass in the final third. Boakye has a sniff of a chance outside the box, but his low effort was always moving wide of the post.
Better from Osasuna in the last couple of moments with the home side frustrating Elche with a period of possession. A half-chance arrives for Silva as the midfielder strikes an effort from outside the box, but Herrera is on hand to collect. Little over 20 minutes of football remaining this evening.
The referee has been more involved than he would like in the last couple of moments with both sides guilty of a number of late challenges. A head injury to Torres leaves the Osasuna midfielder on the ground inside the Elche box, but he is deemed fit to continue following a period of treatment.
Elche make their second change of the match moments later as Javi Marquez enters the field for Sanchez, who had been on a yellow card. The away side continue to play the better football in the Osasuna half, but it is not too difficult to see why they have struggled to score goals over the last couple of seasons. Little over 15 minutes remaining as Marquez fires high and wide of the crossbar.
Osasuna make their first change of the match as Torres, who had suffered a head injury, leaves the field for Punal. It does nothing to quell the traffic, however, as Elche continue to force the issue in the home side's half. But time is certainly against them as we move closer to the final 10 minutes. Still Osasuna lead 2-0 in Pamplona.
It's good work from Boakye as the Elche striker drives past two challenges before attempting to slide a pass towards Manu del Moral, but the on-loan Sevilla forward was not on the same wavelength as his strike partner. Osasuna manage to clear, but it comes straight back with white shirts driving forward.
A dangerous cross from Fidel presents Boakye with another half-chance inside the Osasuna box, but he can only clip his effort high and wide of the crossbar. That has been the story of the away side's night this evening. It appears that both managers are preparing to make another change as we enter the final 10 minutes.
Osasuna look to their bench for the first time this evening as Manuel Omwu replaces Riera, who scored the home side's second. As it stands, Osasuna will move out of the bottom three, while Elche will still be looking for their first win of the season. No clear chances for either side in the last few moments.
It just isn't happening for the away side as another long pass goes astray. It does appear that they are heading for defeat, but they have been the better side for long periods. Marquez threatens with an effort from distance moments later, but it just drops high of the crossbar following a poor kick from Fernandez.
Osasuna make their second change of the evening as Marc Bertran replaces Sisi, who has been quietly effective for the home side. The last 20 minutes or so has been almost like an action replay with Elche dominating the possession, but without really threatening in the final third. Little over two minutes of normal time remaining.
PENALTY TO ELCHE!
The away side are awarded a penalty as Bertran is adjudged to have handled inside the box. Albacar will take.
GOAL! Osasuna 2-1 Elche (Albacar)
Elche cut the deficit to 2-1 with 88 minutes on the clock as Albacar thumps his penalty into the bottom corner. Wow - that has certainly changed the atmosphere inside the stadium. It will be interesting to see how much time is added by the fourth official.
The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional four minutes, which is not a popular decision with the home supporters. Neither side can keep hold of the ball at the moment with the challenges flying in. What a final four minutes we could have in Pamplona.
Elche continue to pump the ball long into the Osasuna box, but it is not falling to a white shirt with the home side able to clear the danger on each occasion. A free kick arrives for the home side moments later, which allows Silva to fire deep into the Elche half.
Last chance saloon for Elche as we enter the final minute. However, the away side just cannot keep the ball with Osasuna in possession in the Elche half. Can they hold on? Little over 30 seconds of stoppage time remaining.
FULL-TIME: Osasuna 2-1 Elche
So there we have it. Osasuna hold on in the final few minutes to secure their first win of the season. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to join us tomorrow for a host of live commentaries across Europe. Until then!