It took much longer than expected but Real Madrid finally picked up their first home victory of the 2017-18 LaLiga season with a 2-0 triumph against Espanyol on Sunday night at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.
Isco was the man on target for the home side , as he scored a goal in each half to earn Real the three points in what was their fourth home league fixture of the young season. While one streak was snapped, another continued, as Cristiano Ronaldo went goalless again and has yet to find the back of the net in league play this season.
Gareth Bale has been battling muscular issues so manager Zinedine Zidane opted to rest the Welshman, paving the way for Marco Asensio to join Cristiano Ronaldo up top. An injury to Dani Carvajal also forced the French boss to play youngster Achraf at right-back.
Before the supporters could even get comfortable in their seats, Isco had the first chance of the match only to see Pau Lopez alert and ready to make the save.
Espanyol were having difficulty getting out of their own half, but they defended well, closing down Real’s spaces. It wasn’t until the half-hour mark that Los Blancos were able to breach Quique Sanchez Flores’ back line, as Cristiano Ronaldo found Isco, who fired in past Pau for a 1-0 advantage.
The Catalonian visitors didn’t see much of Real’s half, but in the rare instance when they did get goalkeeper Keylor Navas’ attention, they nearly drew level through Gerard Moreno, however the post to Navas’ right was not as accommodating and rejected Moreno’s effort.
Some sloppiness almost proved costly to Real to start the second half and if not for a kick save from Navas, Espanyol’s Marc Navarro would have had the Pericos level. Real were looking stale in possession and at one point midfielder Toni Kroos threw up his arms in frustration by the lack of movement from his teammates in the final third.
Real were living dangerously. They were out of rhythm, error-prone, cheap with possession and leaving themselves vulnerable for Espanyol to strike on the counter. The chances were most certainly there for the visitors, namely a Sergio Ramos lapse that nearly gifted a goal. Luckily for the Andalusian centre-back, he was bailed out by Nacho.
Espanyol would rue the miss, as back the other way broke Real and it ended with Asensio cutting a pass back to Isco, who finished with aplomb for his second of the day and a 2-0 Real lead that was safely guarded until the final whistle.
It certainly won’t go down as the prettiest three points Real have picked up at the Bernabeu, but it is a positive way for Zidane’s men to head into the international break before resuming action on October 14 at Getafe.
– Match facts:
2.- Real Madrid: Keylor; Achraf, Varane, Ramos, Nacho; Casemiro, Kroos (Lucas Vazquez, min. 69); Modric (Dani Ceballos, min. 82), Isco (Borja Mayoral, min. 90), Asensio, Cristiano.
0.- Espanyol: Pau Lopez; Sergio Sanchez (Granero, min. 69), David Lopez, Mario Hermoso, Aaron; Marc Roca (Marc Navarro, min. 46), Javi Fuego, Jurado (Sergio Garcia, min. 46), Darder, Baptistao, Gerard Moreno.
Goals: 1-0, min. 30: Isco; 2-0, min. 71: Isco.
Referee: Gonzalez Gonzalez (Castilla y Leon).
Yellow Cards: Nacho (Min. 36) for Real Madrid, Sergio Sanchez (Min. 65) for Espanyol, Casemiro (Min. 77) for Real Madrid, Aaron (Min. 90) for Espanyol
Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu