Espanyol fires coach Fernandez ahead of Real Madrid game

Abelardo Fernandez has been fired from Espanyol. (Alvaro Barrientos/AP)

BARCELONA, Spain — Last-place Espanyol fired coach Abelardo Fernandez on Saturday on the eve of its home game against Spanish league leader Real Madrid.

Joaquin Perez Rufete, the team’s sporting director, will replace Fernandez through the end of the season.

Espanyol said the decision was based on “the team’s performances” and “in hopes of keeping the club in the first division.”

Espanyol is eight points from safety with seven rounds left. It resumed the season with a win against Alaves, then drew with Getafe and lost to Levante and Real Betis.

Fernandez, who had been with Espanyol since December 2019, released a statement saying he was “eternally grateful” for his time with the Barcelona club.

Fernandez’s assistants also were relieved of their duties.

Fernandez was the second coach fired since the Spanish league resumed, following Rubi’s dismissal from Real Betis last weekend.

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