Rayo Vallecano opened their account for the 2022/23 La Liga campaign with a 2-0 victory against RCD Espanyol de Barcelona at the RCDE Stadium. The result extends the Madrid outfit’s unbeaten record against Catalan-based sides to six matches.
Looking to continue their renaissance at the RCDE Stadium, after succumbing to defeat on only one occasion across their previous seven top-flight home encounters, the hosts showcased an unparalleled degree of attacking dominance in the opening minutes.
That only became stronger when Rayo’s Florian Lejeune received two bookings in just three minutes, seeing red after elbowing former Newcastle United teammate Joselu to make the visitors’ task even harder.
That set the tone for a turbulent first half where tempers threatened to flare, and the hosts’ numerical advantage only lasted 13 minutes.
With the assistance of VAR, Sergi Gómez was ordered to join Lejeune in the dressing room after an off-the-ball incident with Sergio Camello, and an Espanyol side shorn of the injured Raúl de Tomás struggled to regroup from there.
That opened the door for Rayo to pounce, and Isi Palazón produced a moment of brilliance for his side in the 40th minute, flawlessly executing a fearsome strike into the bottom right-hand corner past the outstretched glove of Stole Dimitrievski to give the capital club a lead at HT.
Losers in only four of their home matches last season, Espanyol should have drawn level shortly after the break, but Joselu could only direct his header agonisingly wide.
Then, with only eight minutes gone in the second half after his miss, the hosts were left to rue their missed opportunity to draw level when Pathé Ciss inconspicuously strode into the penalty area, and tapped Álvaro García’s enticing cross into an empty net at the back post.
Rayo could have added a third later on, amid a second half of few goalscoring opportunities for either side, but Edu Expósito could only hit the post with a ferocious strike.
With Espanyol already as good as beaten it was an inconsequential miss, and Rayo will celebrate a valuable victory, along with the recognition of suffering only two defeats across their previous eight top-flight encounters. In contrast, Espanyol’s failure extends their winless La Liga record to nine matches.