It was too early to fall before a Second. Rubi wanted his team to take the field with the goal between brows and brow, ready to score the three goals that would allow (given the 2-1 in the first leg) a quiet journey through that round of the round of 32. But tranquility did not reign at the RCDE Stadium in no time. Not even after Hernán Pérez, fresh from the field, scored a goal in the second half. Well, although Espanyol was able to qualify for the Copa del Rey round of 16, the Barcelona team lacked freshness, especially at the beginning: they traveled without pain or glory for a first 45 insipid minutes in which they never seemed to need the comeback. And he ended up asking for the time.
Had chances in the first part, the clearest shortly before the break, but never gave the feeling of dominating the meeting, or entrusted to those three goals with which his coach dreamed, however much he controlled the ball, usually in the opposite area. The danger did not come until the second half started. Only then did he overwhelm the team inside and out, reduce losses, make transitions work. And he added protagonists.
Víctor Sánchez leaves
Sale Hernán Pérez
Sale Borja Iglesias
Out Jairo Izquierdo
The Cadiz, aware of its advantage, worked in his house, defended with many men. And he defended well. He did not suffer, as long as he could keep a clean sheet, the game would have controlled him. But, even though he's just managed to play the game, playing to see them coming has its risks. The Andalusians barely dared to press the ball out of the opponent in the first minutes. And in the agony of the match, when the score forced them to react. They tried to take advantage of some loss. And he had many blue and white team in the initial minutes.
The team led by Álvaro Cervera tried it, in droves. But when he approached Roberto he did it calmly, trying to take care of the ball. And with daring. He had the first chance after ten minutes of play, as Darder had before. The two balls went out. And after that initial bubbling, the match was broken. The soufflé, beyond a kick that Mario Hermoso took out under the sticks, would not rise until after the break.
The ball was from Espanyol. But with Borja Iglesias on the bench until the 62nd minute, the goal was also at rest. Piatti and Leo Baptistao were more protagonists than a hard-working Melendo. And Puado failed, author of the goal of the first leg, a goal that hardly dared to sing one of the few fans who dotted the stands of the stadium in Cornellà, emptier than ever this year, with 12,560 spectators despite the fact that the club had distributed 5,000 invitations to encourage attendance.
It was in the 41 when Piatti, the most active in the first time, had stumbled first with a defender, then with David Gil. The rebound fell at the feet of Puado, but it took so long to arm the leg to be alone before the goalkeeper, who reacted to the defense, which hindered him, and also the goal, who could regain his position and return to avoid the goal. Gil was magnificent, the better the more demanded. And that was already in the second half, when Espanyol regained its best version, attacked with the same order but with much more mischief. It had Baptistao, who had numerous occasions, which encouraged the meeting thanks to his good understanding with Piatti. But sometimes Gil, sometimes the serious defense of Cádiz, as when Kecojevic took a ball from the small area, frustrated his desire to score. He compensated in the play that gave the victory to Espanyol, because he was born of his boots. He gave the ball to Pedrosa, the canterano, magnificent, yielded back and Hernán Pérez, only in the front of the area, beat, finally, Gil.
All the joy, audacity and coordination that he missed in the first 45 minutes, were recovered by Espanyol in the second half, watched from the box by Chen Yansheng, president and maximum shareholder of Espanyol. I knew Rubi's team that played with fire, that a goal was not enough. And he sought the second with insistence, and without the anxiety of meeting the goal and breaking the losing streak of three games without winning, especially now that he expects Barcelona in a few days. It had Borja Iglesias in 78 and also starred in one of the most beautiful plays of the game shortly after, when he attended Darder, who missed face to face with the goalkeeper.
Espanyol ended the match in a want and not power. And it trembled for a moment. It was the 94th minute, the last one. When Karim's header hit the net. But he was offside. And although the VAR still does not attend the Copa matches, the referee was correct, which did not allow him to go up to the scoreboard.