Real Madrid beat Espanyol in the La Liga title race on Sunday night to open a two-point lead over Barcelona, thanks to a composed finish from Casemiro.
Los Blancos were largely dominant in terms of possession and shots but left it until the 45th minute to take the lead, midfielder Casemiro latching on to Karim Benzema’s brilliant backheel to put the visitors in front.
Real had previously been ahead of Barcelona due to their better head-to-head record, but La Blaugrana’s slip-up at Celta Vigo on Saturday gave Madrid the chance to extend their lead.
Big Benzema has certainly been one of the best players since the restart of football – this nutmeg is just pure rubbish? https://t.co/lo3s9ynzjI
— JudeSummerfield (@judesummerfield) June 28, 2020
It was Real’s 104th victory against Espanyol – they are the only club to have beaten a team in Spain’s top flight 100 times. The result means the Catalan side remain at the bottom of La Liga, ten points behind 17th-placed Celta Vigo with just six games remaining.
Zinedine Zidane made changes to the starting XI that beat Mallorca 2-0 in his side’s last outing, with Casemiro returning to midfield, while Gareth Bale dropped to the bench. Karim Benzema was led by Eden Hazard and Isco.
Zinedine Zidane looks on in Barcelona / Quality Sport Images / Getty Images
Espanyol went close to opening the scoring early on when Raul de Tomas had his effort blocked, before Casemiro took a shot from inside his own half, which led to Diego López heading into his own goal to keep it out. They retreated.
The win means Real maintain their perfect post-lockdown record, having previously beaten Eibar, Valencia, Real Sociedad and Mallorca.
Real are next in action on Thursday, when they host Getafe. They will be watching closely on Tuesday, however, hoping their city rivals Atletico can puncture Barca’s title charge at the Wanda Metropolitano.
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