Real Madrid earned a deserved 1-0 victory over Espanyol despite seeing Iker Casillas sent off after the second minute...
Real Madrid worked hard throughout and deservedly took the lead on 24 minutes when Marcelo blasted the ball past Carlos Kameni from a tight angle.
The result means Real Madrid close the gap at the top of the table to five points after Barcelona could only pick up a draw against Sporting last night.
Real Madrid were dealt a huge blow as early as the second minute when 'keeper Iker Casillas was given his marching orders. A quick Espanyol breakaway led to Jose Callejon being one-on-one with the Spanish number one who lunged at the striker outside of his area. Replays showed their was minimal contact as referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz flashed his red card at Casillas.
The sending off was to be start of a frenetic opening to the game with both sides creating chances early on. Real came very close to opening the scoring on 12 minutes when Marcelo drifted in-field before smashing a right-footed effort goalwards. The ball took a slight deflection off Jordi Amat before smashing off the top of the crossbar.
The away side continued to press despite their man disadvantage and took the lead on 24 minutes. Cristiano Ronaldo slid the ball to Marcelo just inside the box who looked to have over-ran the ball before smashing an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net from a very tight angle.
Los Meringues nearly scored a second direct from the kick-off when Espanyol gave the ball away and lone striker Emmanuel Adebayor went on a 40 yard run before seeing his powerful shot from the edge of the area well parried by Carlos Kameni.
Adebayor came agonisingly close again on 40 minutes when Xabi Alonso slide a great throughball to the on-loan striker who raced clear of the chasing defenders before lobbing the ball over Kameni. Unfortunately for the away team the ball cannoned off the top of the bar with Espanyol breathing a sigh of relief.
Los Blancos continued in similar vein in the second half and nearly added that vital second goal after Amat blocked off Ronaldo's run into the box on the edge of the area. The youngster was fortunate to escape with a yellowe card as Ronaldo stepped up to deliver one of his infamous free-kicks. The Portuguese attacker smashed a powerful effort goalwards but Kameni did well to parry the ball to safety.
For large parts of the game Los Periquitos struggled to make their man advantage count but should have equalised on 74 minutes. Joan Verdu played a precise pass to an unmarked Callejon in the Real area who hit the ball first time but could only drag it wide of Adan's post.
Real Madrid should have put the result to bed on 82 minutes when Ronaldo slid the ball to Adebayor. The Togolese striker hit the ball from six yards first time but Kameni was on hand to make a superb block to deny Adebayor his second goal for Real.
Three minutes later it was groundhog day when Ronaldo slid the ball to Adebayor again. This time the leggy striker ran clear of the defenders put could not beat the inspired Kameni who made another brilliant save.
Real Madrid held on for the win and next up for Mourinho's men is a home game versus Levante. Espanyol on the otherhand travel to Osasuna.
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