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Deportivo La Coruña
12 January 2014
• Estadi Cornellà-El Prat, Cornella de Llobregat
Referee: José Antonio Teixeira Vitienes
• Attendance: 32131
Full time in Cornella El-Prat. Not exactly an exhibition win from Real Madrid, but Pepe proves to be the match winner as Los Blancos move within three points of Atletico and Barcelona in La Liga with a narrow 1-0 win over Espanyol. The hosts frustrated Carlo Ancelotti's men for the majority of the match, with Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema all failing to perform, but the former Porto defender claimed all three points with a header in the second half. I'm Martin Macdonald, thanks for joining us, see you next time!
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
Madrid expel some time with a couple of substitutions as Carvajal and Benzema are replaced by Illarramendi and Arbeloa.
Three minutes of added time. A point is surely beyond the reach of Espanyol now?!
Ronaldddoooooooooooooo!! What a miss that is!! The Ballon d'OR nominee receives a break of the ball to the inside left channel and basically has a free goal in which to aim, but sends his strike wide of the post!
The match is extremely scrappy at the moment. Espanyol are piling on the pressure and Madrid and trying their best to scramble it clear, but at the same time there still hasn't been too many saves for Diego Lopez to make.
Last throw of the dice from Espanyol as Stuani is replaced by Pizzi.
Moreno looks to clear the ball straight out of the park but bulldozes through the back of Benzema to get to it. That'll be a free kick to Madrid deep inside the half.
Yellow Card Jhon Córdoba
We've got a bit of a fiasco here as Sergio Ramos and Cordoba both raise their legs and catch each other before going down clutching their respective legs. The referee ends up giving the free kick to Madrid, but it could have gone either way really.
What a saaaaaaave from Casilla! Ronaldo shakes off the attention of a couple of defender before smashing a strike at goal from inside the box. It looks net-bound, but the Espanyol keeper stretches out a hand to tip the attempt over the bar!
Benzema receives the ball out wide from Sergio Ramos and gallops inside at pace before again attempting the one-two with Ronaldo. This time, the return pass is spot on but the touch of the Frenchman is poor and Espanyol clear.
You would have been forgiven for thinking that after Madrid got their opener, they would have kicked on and grabbed another one or two, but it's not happened that way at all. The Espanyol response has been decent, and they are still in contention.
First Real Madrid change of the match as Jese Rodriguez enters the fray in place of Bale, who has been disappointing.
Well, that's pretty awful. Instead of having a strike at goal, Lanzarote attempts a clever chip to the back post that is easily dealt with by Pepe. What a waste of a set-piece.
Stuani breaks inside and is bundled over unceremoniously by Xabi Alonso 25 yards from goal. Free kick to Espanyol in a very, very useful position here.
It's the same story again for Carvajal, unfortunately. He initially does well to shake off the challenge of Fuentes but, with Benzema and Ronaldo in great positions inside the box, floats the ball straight into the arms of Casilla.
It's all pretty flat in the Cornella El-Prat at the moment. Espanyol aren't pressing for an equaliser and Madrid don't seem too bothered to add to their tally. Something will have to give soon unless the hosts are happy to accept a narrow defeat!
Great cross this time from Carvajal! The 22-year-old eventually gets it right and whips the ball to the back post for Sergio Ramos, who's header back into the danger area is scrambled clear by Espanyol!
Ohhhh that's poor from Ronaldo! He latches on to a wonderful pass over the top of the defence from Marcelo and bursts towards goal with authority but his eventual shot on goal is dragged horribly wide! He puts his head in the turd to avoid embarrassment on that one!
Double substitution from Espanyol. Simao and Lanzarote come on for Torje and Alex Fernandez.
Ronaldoooooo! Solid goalkeeping again from Casilla! The Madrid man cuts inside and hits a signature strike from the edge of the box, but it just takes a deflection on the way through, which softens the block for the Espanyol goalkeeper.
We really haven't seen a lot from Gareth Bale so far. The Welshman has the opportunity to take on the defender coming inside but opts to lay the ball back to the edge of the box, and ends up losing the ball as Espanyol intercept.
Di Maria lifts a lovely pass over the top of the Espanyol defence and Ronaldo looks to turn sharply and strike towards goal, but as he is about to do so, the linesman flags for offside. Was a tight one, but probably the correct decision!
Yellow Card Gabriel Torje
It's going to be very hard for Espanyol to get back into this game here. They may have frustrated Madrid up until that goal, but they haven't showed anything particularly inspiring in attack. Diego Lopez fairly comfortable.
That was horrendous defending from the hosts! Who was marking Pepe?!
Assist Luka Modric
GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLL FOR REAL MADRID!! LOS BLANCOS MAKE THE BREAKTHROUGH! Modric clips the free kick to the back post and Pepe heads into the corner totally unmarked! 1-0!
Carvajal latches on to a pass near the corner flag and takes a poor touch which invites the challenge of Stuani. The Espanyol man goes in late and Madrid get the free kick deep in the opposition half.
Poor deliver AGAIN from Madrid! Marcelo is the culprit this time, as he gets into an advanced position down the left but floats a harmless cross into the arms of the grateful Casilla.
Benzema looks to exchange a one-two with Ronaldo on the edge of the box but the return pass from the Portuguese doesn't hit its mark.
To sound like a broken record...Carvajal hits the first half with a cross, again!
It's all been pretty lackadaisical in the match so far from Real Madrid. Let's see if they can add a little spark to their game in the second 45 minutes.
Xabi Alonso has the opportunity to get some service into the box with a deep free kick down the left, but his set-piece is shallow and Espanyol manage to clear from the edge of the box.
We are back under way in Barcelona!
Half time in Catalunya. Real Madrid have had the majority of the possession so far and Kiko Casilla has been by far the busiest of the goalkeepers, but Espanyol have frustrated the visitors and we go into the break goalless. Still plenty of evidence to suggest that it won't be for long though!
Again Carvajal disappoints with a very poor cross into the box as he receives the ball short from a Modric corner kick. His team-mates will be tearing their hair out if he keeps this up.
Benzemaaaa! The ball comes back in and the Frenchman rises high to bullet a header towards the bottom corner, but he can't find enough direction and the attempts goes by the post!
Madrid pass up a golden opportunity! Modric counterattacks at pace through the middle and lays the ball to the left for Di Maria. The Argentine has Benzema and Ronaldo to aim for at the back post but can't find either of them! Espanyol let off the hook there!
Sergio Ramos illegally climbs over the back of Cordoba and Espanyol get the free kick deep in the Madrid half.
Modric skips past Stuani with a gorgeous touch on his chest just on the edge of the park and bursts forward before looking to spray a pass to Ronaldo. It looks to be right on the money but it just didn't dip in time to meet the feet of the Portuguese.
Unconventional goalkeeping to say the least from Casilla! Ronaldo dips a blistering free kick over the wall and the Espanyol keeper falls down to clear the ball with his feet! Not your usual save, but it worked!
Di Maria collects the ball on the left and whips a crossfield pass to Ronaldo, but the ball comes off the hand of Moreno and Madrid get the free kick in a useful position 30 yards out. Let's see what the visitors can make from this.
Ronaldoooooo!! That was some strike! The 28-year-old winds up his right foot and hits a rasper of a shot from 25 yards that twists and turns in mid air. Kiko Casilla does well to turn it over the bar!
Poor from Carvajal. The former Leverkusen man initially does well to get into an advanced position down the flank, but his cross into the box is flat and his mis-control gifts Espanyol a throw in deep inside their own half.
Signs that Madrid are just edging their way into dominance here. Espanyol are not retaining the ball as well as they could be anymore, and Ancelotti's men have taken advantage to boss the midfield.
Brilliant defending from Javi Lopez. Ronaldo pulls out the magic tricks and attempts a few stepovers down the left-hand side, but the Espanyol defender is having none of it and slides in perfectly-timed to send the ball out for a Madrid corner.
That's wild from Modric. The ball breaks kindly to the Croatian inside the box and he has time to pick his spot but instead smashes a strike way over the bar on the half volley. Really good chance, that.
Clever play from Sergio Ramos. The Madrid captain uses his body to shield the ball from Cordoba and eventually earns a free kick out of the 20-year-old.
Brave interception from Javi Lopez! Ronaldo attempts the bicycle kick on the edge of the box, but instead of catching the ball he catches the Espanyol defender on the chest. Free kick to the hosts.
Cordobaaaaa! Side-netting! The Colombian skips past a couple of challenges inside the box, but his eventual shot towards goal flashes past the post.
Mishit from Ronaldo! Benzema does brilliantly as he juggles the ball down the left channel and into the box before reversing a pass inside to the Portuguese, who horribly scoops the ball into the air from seven yards! How often do you see that from the Madrid man?!
Really good defending from Pepe, but Espanyol want a foul! John Cordoba looked to have the better of the Madrid defender, who just came in at the last minute with a strong shoulder challenge to claw the ball away.
Stuani has been working on the shoulder of Carvajal for the majority of the match so far, and his team-mates have been looking for a pass over the top of the Madrid defence any time they can.
Almost brilliant from Bale! The former Spurs man cleverly dummies the ball and looks to latch on to it down the right-hand side, but the pass ran just too far forward and Espanyol get the throw in.
Yellow Card Luka Modric
Decent period of pressure from the hosts at the moment. Torje, in particular, has made a superb start to the game and most of the play is going through him down the right-hand side.
Di Maria originally does excellently to get back into a defensive position, but then is left wanting as Torje skins him down the right wing. The Espanyol man then earns a corner kick.
Xabi Alonso collects possession 25 yards out and looks to whip a cross to the back post for Bale, but the Welshman was just offside as he looked to direct a header towards goal.
Di Mariaaaa. Unlucly! The Argentine latches on to a cross on the edge of the box and looks to hook a volley towards the bottom corner. It goes wide, but it was a great idea!
Decent opening to the match from the hosts. No fear at all on display.
Stuani directs the ball beautifully down the left wing for Fuentes, but the left-back is forced to revert back to Moreno.
Carvajal punts the ball up top to Benzema but Javi Lopez intervenes before earning a throw-in out of the oncoming Ronaldo.
Torje skips past the challenges of Marcelo and Sergio Ramos down the right-hand side and clips a cross to the back post. Stuani looks to get on the end of it but it's just out of his reach!
We are under way!
The teams have took to the field and we are almost ready for kick-off!
Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Diego Lopez; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Xabi Alonso; Di Maria, Bale, Ronaldo; Benzema.
Espanyol (4-2-3-1):Casilla; Javi Lopez, Colotto, Moreno, Fuentes; Víctor Sanchez, Raul Rodriguez; Stuani, Alex, Torje; Cordoba.
However, Espanyol are missing their influential captain, Sergio Garcia, who misses the match due to suspension.
Los Blancos head to Catalunya with nearly a fully-fit squad. Only Raphael Varane and Sami Khedira are currently sidelined with injury.
A source of optimism for Espanyol is that the Barcelona-based side have managed to claim a point off Real Madrid in their last two meetings with the capital club.
The prolific Portuguese attacker is favourite to lift the prestigious trophy on Wednesday, but is up against stiff competition from Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery.
In contrast, Carlo Ancelotti's men have netted 31 goals in their last eight Liga matches, with Ballon d'Or nominee Cristiano Ronaldo bagging 12 of those.
Javier Aguirre's outfit have only managed to notch up six wins so far in La Liga this season, although one of those did come against joint-leaders, Atletico, at El Prat in October.
Los Blancos are looking to extend their unbeaten run over Espanyol to 12 games tonight.
After the 0-0 stalemate between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona last night at the Vicente Calderon, Real Madrid have the opportunity to cut the gap between themselves and the top two to three points with a win over Espanyol this evening.
I'm Martin Macdonald, and I'll be taking you through the action!
Good evening folks! Welcome to LIVE coverage of the Spanish Primera Division clash between Espanyol and Real Madrid from Cornella El-Prat!
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