A much changed Espanyol side waltzed through the second leg of the Europa League 3rd round qualifier against FC Luzern last night. Three unanswered goals on the night, six on aggregate, and bring on Zorya Luhansk in the playoff round.
There were a couple of loose passes in the opening minutes before Wu Lei’s first goal of the season settled everyone down. It was Espanyol’s very first foray into opposition territory, Vargas nipping down the left before lofting a left-footed cross right onto Wu Lei’s head. The keeper had no chance from point blank range. 1-0.
Luzern reacted by giving any latent ambition up altogether, content as they were to watch the Espanyol back four knock it about at their leisure. You could see them bonding before your very eyes with each caress of the ball, and at this rate Bernardo will surely be Facebook friends with all of his new teammates before too long.
From time to time Darder demanded the ball in the centre of the pitch and looked to get it forward quickly to one of three willing runners in Vargas, Wu Lei and Campuzano. The latter was eager to stake a claim of his own for the starting place vacated by Borja Iglesias, and Luzern’s abstract impression of a back four duly obliged on 27 minutes, leaving a gaping hole for Vargas to feed the ball into. Campuzano’s slightly scuffed shot was nevertheless well directed across the keeper and into the bottom corner. 2-0.
Luzern’s game plan seemed to be to conserve energy when Espanyol had the ball in safe areas, however they largely forgot to apply any pressure when their opponents moved into more dangerous territory. Granero went for a stroll from his unfamiliar right wing birth in the 38th minute and laid another one on a plate for Campuzano. The 22 year old already had his eye in and this time he rattled it home left-footed. 3-0.
Luzern would have happily called it a day at half time and in fact took off their best player, Eteke, earlier in the second half. The lanky forward showed glimpses of his talent with slaloming two-footed dribbles, but he was largely isolated out on the wing and there was nothing else to back it up for the Swiss side.
David Gallego then showed his hand slightly with Sunday’s opening league match against Sevilla in mind. Sergi Darder, Matías Vargas and Víctor Campuzano were soon withdrawn, all of them having done enough to merit inclusion against Julen Lopetegui’s side.
The rest of the second half was merely a chance for fans to get to know their neighbours in the stands, and of course rehearse renditions of “Puta Barcelona” and “Lo-lo-lololo-lo-lololo” (to the tune of Gigi D’Agostino’s magisterial 1999 hit “L’amour Toujours”).
Harmless fun for all the family, then, and all that was left was for Luzern’s players to applaud the 200+ fans who had inexplicably made the journey over. Maybe they were just here on holiday anyway.
Espanyol will now play Zorya Luhansk in the playoff round, with the first leg at RCDE stadium next Thursday.
Now have a look at the highlights: