RM: Three Straight Wins in La Liga
Despite Real Madrid’s marathon of three matches in six days, Mourinho made only one change to the starting eleven as the Whites hosted Espanyol. Lass replaced Khedira as the coach stuck to his policy of maintaining his standard lineup intact.
The Whites looked more relaxed than normal in the early going and even then had two near misses in the first ten minutes of the match. Di Maria was thwarted by a stretching Kameni and Ozil’s shot hit right-back Galan. Espanyol responded and rather than retreating into its own third chose to pressure in attack. The move unsettled the Madrisistas and only Di Maria was able to pick away at the adversary’s back line.
A free-kick taken by Cristiano Ronaldo caromed off the hand of Luis Garcia inside the box and referee Clos Gomez awarded a spot-kick to the Whites. Cristiano was ordered to repeat the first shot, but the second also found the back of the net as Real Madrid took the lead. With four minutes left in the half, Verdu quieted the Bernabeu crowd with a shot that came too close for comfort.
Higuain had a golden opportunity shortly after the restart but was unable to strike gold. Real Madrid hoped to put the nail in the coffin as soon as possible, but Espanyol insisted on the equalizer and forced Casillas to make a diving save on a shot by Verdu.
Pepe was sent off on 59’ after seeing his second yellow, but the teams found themselves on equal footing three minutes later when Clos Gomez dismissed Galan for a rigorous tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo. Mourinho replaced Ozil with Khedira and Di Maria took a seat for Arbeloa.
The pace slowed and Real Madrid committed to controlling the ball and putting the match away. Ramos’ header sailed over the crossbar on 69’, but eleven minutes later Higuain clinched the win following a lighting fast counter initiated by Cristiano Ronaldo. The Argentine was subbed out for Benzema, and following a pass by Lass, the Frenchman scored his first goal of the season by beating Kameni with a low drive. Real Madrid earned their fourth straight win, third in La Liga, and now sit atop the table pending Wednesday’s round of action.