Real Madrid 1-0 Espanyol REPORT: Marco Asensio strike keeps up Julen Lopetegui's unbeaten start as boss
Marco Asensio’s strike earned Real Madrid a 1-0 win over dogged Espanyol to send them provisionally top of La Liga on Saturday.
Julen Lopetegui’s side were tested by the visitors at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Borja Iglesias hitting the crossbar, but Real held on for the victory.
The hosts, who rested Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Marcelo, dominated possession but were threatened on the counter by the Catalan side who are sixth in the standings after a good start to the season.
Asensio slotted home the winner four minutes before halftime after Luka Modric’s deflected pass found him on the left of the area.
Espanyol will no doubt feel frustrated that they weren’t able to do more damage on the counter-attack. Quick breakaways caused a few problems for the home side when executed well, but they didn’t manage to do that on enough occasions. Chances were there for them but they just didn’t make them count.
Madrid weren’t at their best tonight but they did enough to get the job done. It was Asensio who finally found the back of the net after 41 minutes, and bar a few nervy moments in the second half, Los Blancos largely dealt with everything Espanyol had to throw at them, allowing them to comfortably leave with three points under their belts.
90+3 minsminute by minute
FULL-TIME: REAL MADRID 1-0 ESPANYOL
90+2 minsminute by minute
An Espanyol attacking move breaks down and Madrid hit them on a counter-attack. They work the ball around patiently before finding Diaz, but the striker is quickly closed down and is easily dispossessed.
90 minsminute by minute
The fourth official has indicated that there will be three minutes of added time.
89 minsminute by minute
Granero is the latest Espanyol player to head towards the Madrid box and try to carve out a chance on goal, but he ends up going down and handling the ball, resulting in a free-kick for the hosts.
87 minsminute by minute
Roca embarks on a clever run towards the home side’s penalty area and then tries to pick out Vila with a deft pass, but Odriozola deals with the danger well before thumping a clearance towards the halfway line.
85 minsminute by minute
Espanyol are starting to show a bit more attacking intent as we enter the final five minutes of normal time. It feels as if they may have left it too late to grab an equaliser, though, as Madrid have remained relatively defensively solid for most of the night.
83 minsminute by minute
The corner finds Llorente and now it’s Madrid’s turn to counter-attack. The substitute does really well to break forward, link up with Diaz and shoot, but his strike is underhit and can only find the hands of Lopez.
82 minsminute by minute
Vazquez clumsily loses possession and allows Espanyol to quick counter-attack. Baptistao weaves his way into the hosts’ box and shoots, but his effort is closed down and deflected behind for a corner.
81 minsminute by minute
Poor from Asensio! The forward is left in acres of space in the middle of the pitch and is able to shoot from 25 yards out, but his strike is woefully executed and sails high over the crossbar.
79 minsminute by minute
Madrid have made a late change, with Llorente coming on to take the place of Isco.
78 minsminute by minute
Granero eventually steps up and shoots from the free-kick, but his curling strike hits the top of the Madrid wall and loops behind for a corner.
75 minsminute by minute
What a chance for Ramos! The defender picks out Isco over on the left flank and then bursts into the box, where he latches onto the midfielder’s perfectly placed cross and forces Lopez into making a diving save with a bullet header.
73 minsminute by minute
A poor pass from Modric is cut out by Sanchez and Espanyol try to quickly counter-attack, but the midfielder runs into trouble and is dispossessed by Ramos on the halfway line.
77 minsminute by minute
Casemiro flies into Iglesias from behind and brings the number seven crashing to the ground, resulting in a yellow card and a free-kick for Espanyol in an excellent position just outside of the penalty area.
No Bale so far
70 minsminute by minute
Espanyol have made their third and final alteration, with Garcia coming on to replace Perez.
69 minsminute by minute
Almost a chance for Ramos! A curling cross is fired into the middle of the Espanyol box and should be dealt with by Lopez, but the goalkeeper completely misses the ball. Luckily for him, Ramos, who is lurking at the back post, is also unable to latch onto it.
67 minsminute by minute
Espanyol are starting to show a bit more attacking intent, with Madrid being guilty of leaving pockets of space available at the back. Once again a shot is unleashed from long range, but Courtois does well to collect it without any problems.
Second half action
65 minsminute by minute
Igelsias hits the crossbar! A terrible mistake by Ramos allows the striker to burst into the box and shoot, but his chipped shot ends up smashing the woodwork after leaving Courtois rooted to the spot.
64 minsminute by minute
Iglesias, who hasn’t seen much of the ball this evening, is finally able to get a shot away, but his effort from 20 yards out is poor and easily collected by Courtois.
63 minsminute by minute
Madrid have made another change, with Ceballos making way for Vazquez.
62 minsminute by minute
Modric gets himself into a good position and shoots, but he has to settle for a corner after his strike is deflected wide of the far post. The Croatian’s cross is a poor one, however, as it fails to clear the first man.
59 minsminute by minute
Espanyol have created little tonight, but whenever they push forward they seem to cause problems for Madrid. This time it’s a swinging cross from the left that the hosts are just about able to clear away from danger.
60 minsminute by minute
Diaz receives a rousing round of applause as he comes on to replace Benzema up front.
57 minsminute by minute
A dangerous cross from Odriozola almost picks out Asensio but is instead half cleared out to Casemiro. The Brazilian quickly shoots, but his strike is a scuffed one and fails to trouble Lopez.
53 minsminute by minute
The home side continuing dominating possession as they try to embark on another attacking move, but a pass out from the back by Varane is poor and sails out of play for a throw in.
55 minsminute by minute
And the second is Sanchez, with Darder making way.