Carlos Vela returned to the starting line up for Loan club CA Osasuna on Sunday afternoon, as the Osasunistas traveled to Catalonia to take on high flying Espanyol, with the three points important for different reasons to both teams.
Osasuna need the points to stave off relegation, while Espanyol have put themselves is a position to qualify for the Uefa Cup, mainly thanks to goals from skipper Raul Tamudo, so an exciting clash was in prospect at Estadio Olimpico de Montjuic.
In terms of team news, Coach Jose Angel Ziganda welcomed Carlos back to his creative midfield trio, they would be looking to get as much support to loan man Kike Sola
The Confirmed Starting 11
Azpilicueta – Miguel Flano – Cruchaga – Monreal
Punal – Astudillo
Juanfran – Plasil – C. Vela
Osasuna have been well known for starting well in their fixtures this term, and that was exactly what happened in the early stages against Espanyol, as the visitors passed the ball impressively and dominated the early possession, the return of the on loan Vela helped confidence, and gave the team a lift, as they pushed for an early goal.
Punal and Plasil tested home keeper Carlos Kameni with early efforts, including a stunning drive from the Czech Republic play-maker Plasil which Kameni saw re-bound off his crossbar, then after good work in the midfield, Vela sent Plasil through and only the advancing Cameroon keeper stopped a certain goal, Espanyol looked short of confidence, but weathered the early storm before eventually firing in to life.
Winger Valdo sent a bullet header at Ricardo which the Spanish stopped saved well, then Luis Garcia was clipped down in the area, however appeals for a penalty were waved away, Espanyol’s fragile confidence was then shattered as Osasunas stunned them by striking first blood.
The fore-mentioned Carlos Kameni would be the culprit of his side’s own down fall as he dropped Patxi Punal’s free kick right at the feet of January signing Martin Astudillo, the Argentinian said “thank you very much” and stabbed it home to hand the struggling Osasunistas a vital lead.
Kameni then kept his side in the game, when Spanish forward Kike Sola saw his right footed shot saved well, the home side had relied on captain fantastic Raul Tamudo this season for inspiration, and he nearly came up with the goods, as his cross found Valdo he failed to convert and his header went over.
Half Time – Osasuna 1-0 Espanyol
The half time break brought the opportunity for Ziganda to talk to his side, and get them mentally ready for a tricky second period, and whatever was said seemed to work, as Espanyol continued to look out of sorts with Vela nearly profiting, Kike Sola released the Mexican but he dragged the shot wide after being put through 1 on 1, anxiety was high amongst the coaching staff fearing the failure to take chances could lead to them being punished.
However they had no need to panic, and it seemed all three points had been confirmed when Miguel Flano’s long ball found Juanfran with pin point accuracy, he skipped around the keeper, but whilst being off balance he sliced the ball off the cross bar to the dis believe of the Osasuna fans and to the relief of Ernesto Valverde.
Jose Angel Ziganda, then made changes with the clock ticking down, Carlos Vela was pulled off having ran himself in to the ground for his side, in a game bogged down in midfield, Hector Font came on for the final 20 minutes.
Its a known fact if you are to achieve anything in football, you need a little luck and Osasuna had it, this was confirmed when Raul Tamudo delicately lobbed Ricardo, and as he turned to celebrate, Nacho Monreal threw his frame in the way and got it off the line, with that Espanyol fell apart as the rest of the game became a tense affair.
It finished 1-0 so Osasuna take all three points, this now puts them on the magic 40 point mark they are six clear of 18th-placed Real Zaragoza, meaning the battle with relegation has been won, with a win next week guaranteeing them a place in La Liga next season.
Article By – J.Sanderson