Real Madrid finally managed to win their first three La Liga points at the Santiago Bernabeu this season, thanks to a classy brace from Isco against a helpless Espanyol
In what was already a Real Madrid-dominated half, Isco opened the scoring for his side just on the half hour mark after being put through by Cristiano Ronaldo. The visitors barely threatened in the first 45 minutes and it seemed as if Zidane’s men would enjoy a comfortable evening.
Espanyol started the second half well, forcing Navas into a few saves and asking questions of the Real Madrid defence. However, Isco doubled their lead with a cool finish in the 70th minute and that sealed the game. The visitors never looked like they would come back from that.
It should have been four, or even six goals to nothing for Real and the likes of Ronaldo and Vazquez are guilty of missing easy chances. However, that will matter little as they secured a much needed win to keep up pace with Barcelona.
Keylor Navas: 7/10
Had basically nothing to do in the first half. Denied Marc Navarro early in the second half and was required to be a sweeper keeper on one occasion. Besides those two occasions, remained largely untroubled for most of the evening.
Achraf Hakimi: 7/10
A fine debut from the 18-year-old Moroccan. Wasn’t too troubled down his flank, but dealt with whatever came his way comfortably and looked eager to be involved in whatever he could. Not lacking in confidence, Hakimi made the most of his debut and a performance.
He will likely be called upon in the next few games as well, as the extend of Dani Carvajal’s heart condition remains unknown. However, a performance like this will certainly do well for both his confidence, and his manager’s.
Raphael Varane: 8/10
The Frenchman cut a resolute figure in the middle of his defence and put in an assured performance. Dealt with Gerard Moreno and the rest of the visitors’ attack well and he needed to be at his very best, given that his partner looked jittery for most of the game.
Sergio Ramos: 6/10
Squandered a chance to score and very nearly gifted Espanyol the equalizer in the 68th minute. Played a beautiful ball upfield which should’ve led to their first goal. It was a rare off-day for the captain, who was nowhere near his his confident best and looked insecure for the most part.
Nacho Fernandez: 7/10
Made a fantastic block in the 68th minute to prevent Espanyol from getting an equalizer. It was a resolute performance from the 27-year-old Spaniard, who ensured that the opposition didn’t create many chances from his flank.
Made a number of tackle and interceptions to bring a half to anything that the visitors may have been looking to create and did look to contribute going forward. He is no Marcelo, but once again proved more than capable of standing in for the Brazilian when required.
The only blemish in an otherwise routine performance was his booking. Absolutely unnecessary tackle in the 77th minute when Real were already 2 up. Snuffed out any possible threat in midfield and was a solid presence alongside Kroos and Modric in the middle of the park.
Toni Kroos: 7/10
The German international didn’t have his best game, but it was a typically assured performance in the middle of the park, ensuring that his team controlled the pace of the game. Lost control of the midfield for a while in the second half and looked tired as the game went on.
Luka Modric: 7/10
Like Kroos, the Croatian Wizard wasn’t performing at optimal levels, likely due to his exertions midweek against Borussia Dortmund. He did however, pull the strings in midfield and the lack of any significant pressing from Espanyol allowed to him to do as he pleased. A comfortable evening for the 32-year-old.
Constantly twisting and turning and always looking to create something for his teammates, his new ‘free’ role just in behind the center forwards really seems to bring the best out of the 25-year-old. Should’ve opened the scoring in the 25th second, but made up for that miss in fine fashion.
Scored both his goals within 40 minutes of each other and sealed the tie. His movement was class, constantly drew the opposition to him and ran the show from the middle of the park. Substituted late in the game so that he may have a well deserved standing ovation.
Marco Asensio: 8/10
Found Isco nicely in the Espanyol box with a square ball which led to Madrid’s second of the night. Linked up well with Isco and had a decent understanding with Ronaldo upfront. It was a hard-working display from the Spaniard, who was undoubtedly looking to justify his contract extension.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 7/10
Set up the first goal and played his part in creating the second, the Portuguese superstar cut a frustrated figure for most of the match as he kept looking for his first Liga goal of the season. Did not get it and his displeasure was evident.
Missed two easy chances, but he was constantly involved in everything going forward and his very presence left the Espanyol defence in disarray. This has been his worst start to a La Liga season, and it won’t help that Messi is already on double figures for the season.
Lucas Vazquez: 6/10
Replaced Toni Kroos with 20 minutes to go and wasted no time in having a go at the Espanyol defence on the right flank, but couldn’t make much of an impact. Wasted 2 easy chances from 5 yards out in the space of 7 minutes. Will have better games going forward.