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March 4, 2012
• Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
Referee: José Antonio Teixeira Vitienes
• Attendance: 78000
FULL-TIME! Madrid storm to a 5-0 win courtesy of a double from Higuain and individual strikes from Ronaldo, Khedira and Kaka. Mourinho's men regain their 10-point lead over Barcelona in La Liga, picking up their 10th consecutive league win in the process. Espanyol were pretty dreadful and were easily put to the sword by the side who appear to be the 2011-12 champions of Spain. That's it from me, Luke Matthews, tonight. I hope you enjoyed the game. Buenas Noches!
One minute of added time here.
Morata nearly had a debut goal! Ronaldo tees the ball up for the 18-year-old who takes a touch before slamming it goalwards, only for Kiko Casillas to parry the ball to safety.
Ronaldo leaps well to get his head on the ball from Xabi Alonso's corner yet the forward can only direct it wide of the post.
We are into the final five minutes and despite Madrid playing very well, Espanyol have offered very little. They obviously didn't fancy doing any favours for their local rivals Barcelona.
Yellow Card Raúl Baena
Morata is on for Higuain as he makes his Madrid debut. No hat-trick tonight for the Argentine who has had a great evening.
Higuain, who now has 19 goals this season, is played through on goal yet Kiko Casillas saves well with his feet to deny Madrid a sixth.
Goal Gonzalo Higuaín
5-0 MADRID! Higuain grabs his second of the game after some excellent play from Kaka. The Brazilian shows some superb skill to get past his marker before poking the ball into the path of the Argentine who smashes the ball high into the net from 15 yards out.
Madrid are knocking the ball around now and playing at walking pace. Surely there's another goal in the home team.
Will Madrid grab a fifth tonight? With16 minutes to go plus injury time, you certainly wouldn't rule it out. Espanyol will surely be counting down the minutes.
Ozil is taken off and replaced by Callejon. The German has only completed 90 minutes on five occasions this season.
Madrid nearly makes it five as Khedira picks out the attacker with a wonderful through ball. However, the former Manchester United man uncharacteristically lacks composure in front of goal as he smashes it over the bar.
Yellow Card Vladimir Weiss
Assist Gonzalo Higuaín
4-0 MADRID! Higuain lays the ball off to Kaka who storms past two Espanyol defenders before picking his spot and passing the ball into the far corner of the net with it going in off the post. Has to be said, the Brazilian has looked superb tonight.
Ronaldo gives a free-kick away after bringing down Jordi Amat as he chased a loose ball. Weiss then makes a great run into the box yet Varane makes a good interception.
Ozil curls a corner into the penalty area and despite Ronaldo's almighty leap, the Portugese star is unable to get his head onto the ball.
Jordi Amat is on for Espanyol with Raul Rodriguez struggling with a knock. No more substitutes now for the away side.
All Madrid at the moment with Espanyol chasing shadows right now. It seems the home team are able to create chances at will, not good for the visitors.
Higuain slides the ball to an unmarked Ronaldo who is one-on-one with the keeper. He delays his effort as he waits for Kiko Casilla to show a sign of where he is going to go. Credit to the goalkeeper who stands tall and makes an excellent block from the attacker's eventual effort.
Despite being shocking tonight, the visitors have improved a little bit since conceding a third. Is there anything in this game for the Barcelona-based team?
Yellow Card Juan Daniel Forlín
Espanyol have another set-piece and do a lot better this time. Verdu's clever free-kick picks out an unmarked Sergio Garcia who volleys over the bar from close range.
The free-kick from Verdu is terrible and Casillas claims the ball unchallenged with ease.
Yellow Card Romaric
Free-kick given to Espanyol as the two substitutes come together, Varane apparently pulling Sergio Garcia to the ground.
On Twitter Bolaji Nifemi thinks Madrid will win the game 4-1 while Christian claims the home team will not score anymore and Espanyol will grab a consolation. Anyone think there could be more goals in it for the home team?
Surely there is no way back now for the visitors who already look defeated. Madrid can take their foot off the gas and enjoy the final 40 minutes.
Goal Gonzalo Higuaín
MADRID COME CLOSE AGAIN! Ronaldo powers a low effort at goal and the keeper gets a hand to the ball as it loops up high and bounces off the top of the crossbar. Fortunate for Kiko Casilla.
3-0 MADRID! Higuain gets himself on the scoresheet with a brilliant finish. Kaka glides forward before sliding a lovely ball to the Argentine who beats the Espanyol offside trap to lift it into the roof of the net.
Both sides have made changes at the break with Madrid bringing on Varane for Carvalho with Raul Baena and Sergio Garcia coming on for Coutinho and Alvaro for Espanyol.
Real Madrid lead 2-0 at the break after goals from Ronaldo and Khedira and to be honest, it has been far too easy for the home side who are on course for their 10th consecutive win in Liga. Will we see a comeback from Espanyol in the second-half? It looks unlikely but be sure to join us again in 15 minutes for the second period.
45' + 2'
Ronaldo runs clear on the left wing before playing a great ball to the unmarked Higuain in the box. The Argentine gets his shot away but it is a great save by the keeper.
45' + 1'
We are into the first minute of two added minutes of injury time.
Espanyol are enjoying a little possession now in the final stages of the first-half but Madrid are working fairly hard which is summed up when Higuain dispossesses Didac Villa in the right-back position.
Stoppage here as Khedira is down on the ground after a head collision with Romaric. A stretcher is brought onto the pitch yet it will not be needed as the midfielder looks okay to continue.
This is just too easy for Mourinho's side. Pochettino, who is very highly rated for his tactical ability in Spain will be mortified by how easy his team have made it for the league leaders.
Assist Mesut Özil
Goal Sami Khedira
2-0 MADRID! Khedira grabs his first ever Liga goal and it's a brilliant team move. The German midfielder charges forward, passing to Ronaldo who then flicks the ball into the path of Ozil. The playmaker then does well to find his compatriot Khedira, who has continued the run into the penalty area, before slotting home from 15 yards out.
First shot on target for the visitors as Coutinho tries his luck from 30 metres out, only for Casillas to parry the ball to safety.
Ozil attempts to squeeze the ball through to Ronaldo although the pass is a little on the lightside. The Portuguese attacker does get his foot to the ball yet is adjudged to have unfairly barged Javi Lopez off the ball in the process with a free-kick being awarded.
Ronaldo picks out Marcelo with a decent ball. The Brazilian plays it into the box straight away yet Higuain is outnumbered by Espanyol defenders who clear once again.
Wonderful link-up play between Kaka and Marcelo as the left-back attempts to search out Ronaldo in the area with a low ball. However, Hector Moreno is on cue to get a touch to clear the danger.
Pochettino's men have offered very little in this first period as Madrid continue to see all of the ball. If the match carries on in this fashion, it is difficult to see anything other than a comfortable win for Mourinho's side.
Yellow Card Ricardo Carvalho
Carvalho is shown a yellow card as the ball hits his arm as Didac Vila looks to take the ball around the Portuguese defender. Unlucky to be booked but one of the new rules in Liga this season requires a player to go into the book if the ball strikes his arm.
Ozil is the man who takes the free-kick yet the wall do their job and block his effort. I say the wall, I mean Romaric's face. One of those free-kicks when really it was probably a little too close to curl over the wall.
Ronaldo is brought down by Romaric just outside the penalty area. Can Los Blancos add to their lead?
Madrid are in complete control of this at the moment as Espanyol look unable to hold onto the ball.
Assist Gonzalo Higuaín
Goal C. Ronaldo
1-0 MADRID! Ronaldo grabs the goal for the home team, his 30th Liga goal of the season. Raul Rodriguez gives the ball away cheaply as Ozil plays it to Higuain in the box who then moves it onto Ronaldo to sweep past the keeper with his left foot from 12 yards out.
Madrid have enjoyed 65 per cent possession so far in the game compared to Espanyol's 35. Still, as we reach the half way mark of the first period, we are all square.
Ozil whips another set-piece into the box yet it's poor as Espanyol clear the danger. The German's corners and free-kicks have been poor so far this evening.
Madrid get into the box as Kaka powers an effort at goal which Kiko Casilla catches on second attempt.
Madrid have certainly increased the tempo in recent moments and have enjoyed the lion's share of possession.
Ozil's corner is dropped by Kiko Casilla who is under pressure from Ronaldo. Higuain then volleys the ball towards goal from close range, though it is deflected wide from Espanyol Didac Vila. However the referee strangely awards a goal-kick.
Ronaldo is played through one-on-one yet his first touch is a little heavy as he takes it a little too wide. He crosses the ball into the six-yard box but there are no white shirts present.
Madrid power forward as Ozil crosses low into the box towards Higuain yet Kiko Casillas is alert and is down on the down on the ground to grab the ball.
Madrid are caught offside again as Higuain picks out Ozil who is three yards ahead of the nearest Espanyol defender. It's obvious in the early stages that Pochettino and his man have done their homework this evening on the Liga leaders.
Inviting ball forward by an Espanyol defender yet Alvaro is a yard or two away from controlling the ball as Casillas is able to claim it unchallenged.
Xabi Alonso avoids crossing the ball from a set-piece, instead opting for a move straight off the training ground as he slides a ball into the path of Kaka. However, Dida Vila is alert and puts the ball out for a corner which Madrid waste once again.
After some lovely skill by Ronaldo, the ball is played to Marcelo who crosses from the left. However, Higuain is a yard offside and misses the opportunity anyway.
Ozil whips the ball into the box from a corner yet it's poor as Kiko Casilla claims it with ease.
Carvalho dwells on the ball and is nearly dispossessed by Alvaro before Ramos comes to the rescue. The experienced centre-half could be a weak link for Madrid tonight, especially given his limited game time and recent injury record.
The home team have made a bright start to proceedings here as they pass the ball around the pitch at a quick tempo. Good pressing by Espanyol though in the early stages.
Madrid break at pace and Higuain crosses the ball into the box for Ozil to tap into the net yet the Argentine is ruled offside.
Madrid get us underway here in their traditional all white kits. Espanyol on the other hand are in their change strips of lue/blark shirts with black shorts.
Both sets of players are on the pitch now as we are ready to kick-off. Good atmosphere in the Bernabeu as the supporters look to spur their team on to yet another victory.
A lot of speculation surrounding Mourinho's future at the club this week with the Portuguese trainer spotted 'house-hunting' in London on Tuesday. As expected the former Inter man was unwilling to give any details when asked in his press conference yesterday but the rumours will go into overload with Andre Villas-Boas' sacking at Chelsa today. Will Mou be staying in Madrid?
Remember, you can let me know your predictions for the game via Twitter @LukasMaf. Big team news for Madrid is that Kaka has passed a late fitness test and is included in the starting line-up. Also Khedira is preferred to Granero even though the Spaniard had started the previous four games for Los Blancos. What are your thoughts on Mourinho's team selection?
Espanyol (4-2-3-1): Kiko Casilla; Javi Lopez, Raul Rodriguez, Hector Moreno, Didac Vila; Forlin, Romaric; Weiss, Verdu, Coutinho; Alvaro Subs: Edgar, Gomez, Amat, Baena, Thievy, Uche, Sergio Garcia
Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Arbeloa, Carvalho, Ramos, Marcelo; Xabi Alonso, Khedira; Ronaldo, Kaka, Ozil; Higuain Subs: Adan, Varane, Albiol, Granero, Diarra, Callejon, Morata
Here come the teams...
Hello and welcome to Goal.com's coverage of the Liga fixture between Real Madrid and Espanyol from the Santiago Bernabeu. Jose Mourinho's men could claim their 10th consecutive league win tonight and with it, go 10 points clear of rivals Barcelona who defeated Sporting Gijon last night. However, they will be up against an Espanyol side who have aspirations of European qualification.
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