Villarreal edge Espanyol 2-1 to stay unbeaten
By Joseph Wilson ,APBARCELONA -- Villarreal used a quick goal and Ruben “Cani” Gracia's playmaking to earn a hard-fought 2-1 win at home over Espanyol on Thursday, keeping the promoted side undefeated through six rounds in the Spanish league.
September 28, 2013, 12:05 am TWN
Villarreal stayed in fourth place and two points behind third-place Real Madrid. Leader Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are a further two points ahead.
“We hope we can keep this up and stay in the Champions League spots,” Cani said. “We are not going to settle for less. Although we do remember that we have just come up from the second division.”
Striker Jeremy Perbet needed 30 seconds to put Villarreal ahead at El Madrigal Stadium by volleying in a cross by Hernan Perez that Cani had headed down to him in the area.
Despite the early blow, Espanyol hung in the match thanks to Kiko Casilla's goalkeeping to stop two shots by Giovani Dos Santos before halftime. Javier Aguirre's team, which was full of second-choice players, then pressed Villarreal into its area at the start of the second half.
But Cani set up substitute Jonathan Pereira to tap in the hosts' second goal off the break in the 67th after streaking down the left flank.
Espanyol, however, wasn't done and forward Sergio Garcia pulled one back in the 80th when he spun away from his marker and drilled a shot past goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo to leave the result in doubt until the final whistle.
It was Espanyol's first loss of the season.