Contrast match t the RCDE Stadium to end the weekend. Espanyol, right at the edge of the cliff and with another change on the coach looking for a miracle of avoiding relegation, hosted Real Madrid, which had a huge opportunity to grab the first spot after Barça´s draw yesterday at Balaídos.
The home team tried to surprise Madrid in the first minutes through attempts on the wings that were not finished. Espanyol´s new coach Rufete carried out a 4-4-2 system with Wu Lei on the right side and Embarba on the midfield behind forward Raúl de Tomás (RDT) in order to feed him with nice passes. On the other half, Zidane went out on a 4-3-3 whit whom he took control of the game after Espanyol´s strong start the first ten minutes.
Espanyol closed up spaces effectively and looked for counterattacks: one of those transitions ended on a set piece that defender Bernardo headed and Courtois saved on the line. Rufete´s squad were relatively comfortable until this point against a very relaxed Madrid.
Zidane´s players cooked the game little by little until they stabbed their rival through a genius technical gesture by Benzema right before the break: the French received facing back the net and he created an stunning assist to Casemiro with his back heel that gave the goal to the Brazilian and broke down Espanyol´s hopes when the players were already heading to the locker-room.
Second half was just a matter of knowing when Madrid would put the game away. Espanyol accused both their physical effort in the first half and their mental break after Benzema´s magnificent action. This way, Espanyol did not have any other option but staying backwards and surrender themselves to Madrid in search of a miracle on an isolate play just as difficult as their stay at LaLiga. Madrid took the deal and walked on the pitch in order to rest towards their next meets.
The surprising fact was that Madrid did not increase their lead and kept the plot until the end, but with the minimum and thanks to a brilliance by Benzema take over the first spot against a virtually relegated Espanyol.