Poor starts have been a trend for Espanyol this season as their last match saw them concede in the first half for the fourth consecutive La Liga game, and they also remain the league’s poorest first-half scorers with just eight goals.
That trend very nearly continued after just four minutes, as Griona's Viktor Tsygankov broke forward before trying to square the ball to a teammate only for a vital interception from an Espanyol defender to prevent a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Griona had been the most prolific goal scorers in the league over the previous five game weeks, so they were full of confidence and went close to taking the lead with 10 minutes of the half remaining.
The chance came as the ball fell to Valentin Castellanos, but the Argentinian sliced his effort wide. Girona continued to press for an opener as the half was coming to an end and went close again shortly afterwards, but Tsygankov could only rifle his effort into the side netting at the near post.
Girona have an exemplary record when scoring first at home this season, having won on all five previous occasions.
That run looked like it was going to continue when the ball fell to the feet of Arnau Martinez on the edge of the Espanyol penalty area before the full-back teed himself up and rifled a stunning volley into the top corner with his left foot.
Things weren’t easy for Girona though as they bizarrely saw Real Madrid loanee Reinier shown a red card despite the fact the Brazilian was still on the bench at the time.
The home side are yet to win a top-flight match between these two sides, and that record looked set to stand with just over 15 minutes remaining when Javier Puado’s header was bundled over the line by Martin Braithwaite to draw Espanyol level.
However, there was another late twist in the game as Sergi Gomez saw his yellow card changed to a red pending a VAR review after his late challenge on Castellanos.
Girona were handed the chance to win the game late on, as they were awarded a penalty when Castellanos was dragged to the ground. Cristhian Stuani was the man to step up and convert the penalty to restore the home side's advantage and steal all three points for the White and Reds.
Flashscore Player of the Match: Arnau Martinez (Girona)