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Primera División

  • October 2, 2011
  • • 4:00 PM
  • • RCDE Stadium, Cornella de Llobregat
  • Referee: Fernando Teixeira Vitienes
  • • Attendance: 38000

Espanyol 0-4 Real Madrid: Higuain hits hat-trick and Callejon nets against old club as capital giant edges to within a point of Barcelona

The Argentine made light of the absence of Karim Benzema with a terrific treble as Jose Mourinho's men proved too good for their Catalan opponents.

Gonzalo Higuain hit three goals as Real Madrid moved to within a point of Barcelona at the top of La Liga on Sunday night following a 4-0 win in the Catalan capital against Espanyol at Cornella.

Madrid, like Barcelona, was playing in black, and just as the club's arch-adversary had done earlier in the evening in Gijon, the capital club secured a hard-fought away success.

Higuain was in for the injured Benzema, one of a number of sidelined stars for coach Jose Mourinho, who was also missing Pepe, Ricardo Carvalho, Fabio Coentrao and long-term absentee Nuri Sahin.

Espanyol fell behind as Ronaldo received the ball from Kaka and set up Higuain on a quick counterattack, which the Argentine culminated by crashing a powerful right-footed angled drive into the top corner 17 minutes in.

Espanyol looked lively despite going behind and Iker Casillas made a fine save to deny Sergio Garcia, but it was all over as a contest as Higuain struck a brilliant second midway through the second period. The striker latched onto Alvaro Arbeloa's ball and lashed an unstoppable right-footed drive into the top right corner.

Home fans then applauded as former hero Jose Callejon was introduced as a substitute late in the game, but just five minutes later the summer signing had hurt his old club by finishing off a quick move after being set up by Ronaldo.

Higuain made it 4-0 in added time following a mistake from Hector Moreno to put a gloss on the scoreline and make it a night to remember for the Argentine and Madrid, which now has 13 points - one less than Barcelona.