It took just seven minutes for Barcelona to edge ahead of their struggling local rivals, as unconvincing marking from a corner allowed Marcos Alonso to meet Andreas Christensen’s header and nod home his first league goal for the Blaugrana.
While the derby day intensity grew with referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz flourishing four yellows in six minutes, Nico Melamed got into a dangerous position and threw a step over in an attempt to shake off Sergi Roberto, who was able to deflect his eventual shot wide.
There was concern for Barça shortly after HT as Gavi went off with a back problem, and frustration soon followed for Robert Lewandowski as the front man powered his header wide.
Having done well to stay in the game, Espanyol were awarded a penalty following Alonso’s clumsy challenge on Joselu, who picked himself up to coolly slot his spot kick down the middle.
As the football resumed following the madness, Fernández made fantastic saves to deny Christensen and Lewandowski, as Barça regained top spot on goal difference despite their five-match winning league run coming to an end with another Lewandowski attempt being deflected agonizingly wide in the final seconds.
Meanwhile, Espanyol have lost just one of their last seven in all competitions and go a point ahead of the bottom three.
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