Real Madrid played away from home without two of their star players in Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo but still managed to beat Espanyol 2 – 0 in the La Liga clash staged on Sunday 18 September to keep their 100% record and go back to the summit of the league.
It was not always easy for Real Madrid, the European champions had to dig deep and it all started on a wrong footing with Sergio Ramos booked on just the third minute for a sliding tackle on Leo Baptista and moments later, midfielder Casemiro hobbled off with a calf injury.
Real though they had the lead thereafter after a good build up and run in that had Karim Benzema free himself to head in but the goal was ruled out for offside as Espanyol defence timed their play to perfection.
However, it turned sour for Espanyol who were holding on tight for a barren tie at the break as with three minutes added on, Colombian forward James Rodriguez, one of the beneficiaries of Ronaldo – Bale absence notched home the opener in the second of three added minutes.
Making his first start of the season, Rodriguez picked what seemed like a harmless pass from Toni Kroos and beat two tackles to create an opening for himself before unleashing a low 20 – yarder that beat the home side’s keeper for the opening goal.
Sergio Ramos, on a yellow from the third minute was lucky to stay on after what seemed like an abrasive push on Espanyol skipper Hernan Perez on the 64th minute. A harsher referee would have pulled out a card on that.
That incident was a case of the work put in by Espanyol but all the hard work would count for nothing as Real, who seemed contented to cling on, grabbed a second through Karim Benzema on 70 minutes.
It was a well worked goal, the Frenchman was fed by Lucas Vasquez’s low cross and he slipped in front of his marker to turn it in.
In the end, the only concern for Real, from the match would be the yellow card shown to Danny Carvajal after a tussle for the ball with Espanyol’s Victor Sanchez.