Iago Aspas’ late winner gives Sevilla vengeful win against Espanyol
On-loan Liverpool striker Iago Aspas scored a last-minute winner to give Sevilla a thrilling 3-2 victory over Espanyol, who played the entire second half with 10 men after goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was sent off.
Christian Stuani put visitors Espanyol ahead from the penalty spot but the hosts levelled through a stunning strike from Diogo Figueiras and then Vitolo tapped home from close range to put Unai Emery’s side ahead before the break.
Casilla was then handed his marching orders in the 40th minute but Sevilla were unable to capitalise on their man advantage in the second half and were left stunned by Victor Sanchez’s 77th-minute equaliser.
However, Aspas eventually got the reward for his tireless performance by scoring the decisive goal in what was his first league start for the club.
Sevilla move one point clear of fellow Champions League chasers Valencia and into fourth in the Primera Division table, while Espanyol remain in ninth.
Both sides made cautious starts to what was their third meeting in 10 days following a Copa del Rey quarter-final tie won by Espanyol, but the game burst into life in the 14th minute.
First Daniel Carrico was denied at point-blank range by Casilla and then Espanyol struck quickly on the counter-attack, leading to Salva Sevilla being felled by Beto and winning a penalty.
The Espanyol players were furious that the Portuguese goalkeeper was only punished with a yellow card, but Stuani kept his nerve from the spot to score a third goal in two matches.
The goal only served to motivate Sevilla, who proceeded to pound the visiting area for the remainder of the half.
Casilla made a double save to deny Aspas but was helpless to keep out Diogo’s first-time shot from over 30 yards out, which levelled the match.
Sevilla took the lead nine minutes later due in no small part to Aleix Vidal, who intercepted a pass from Jose Canas then played a one-two with Aspas before squaring the ball for Vitolo to nudge home.
Sevilla were hungry for another goal before the break and looked set to get one when the excellent Ever Banega released Aspas, but Casilla came racing out of his area and saved the striker’s chipped effort illegally, and was shown a straight red card.
Reserve goalkeeper Paul Lopez was brought on, and Sevilla also had to make a goalkeeping change due to an injury to Beto, who was replaced by Sergio Rico.
Sevilla continued to dominate the play but could not build on their advantage, with Vicente Iborra and Aspas both striking the woodwork.
And Emery’s side looked to have blown it when Sanchez curled the ball past Rico after an excellent run by Javi Lopez.
However, Aspas ensured Sevilla would not be denied. The 27-year-old controlled a through-ball from substitute Carlos Bacca and arrowed the ball into the far bottom corner to rescue the game for his side and crown a lively league debut.