A first-half strike from Marco Asensio was enough for Real Madrid to see off Espanyol in matchweek five of the 2018-19 La Liga on Saturday.
Real Madrid registered their fourth victory of the new season, as they defeated Espanyol 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu this weekend, courtesy a strike from Marco Asensio.
Manager Julen Lopetegui rested a number of key players for the game, with the likes of Gareth Bale and Marcelo being left on the bench, while Toni Kroos and Dani Carvajal were omitted from the squad altogether. But that didn’t stop the Merengues from bagging all the three points, with Asensio finding the back of the net four minutes from half-time, after being set up by Luka Modric.
The visitors almost managed to equalize in the closing stages of the match, but Borja Iglesias’ cheeky chipped effort bounced back off the crossbar as Real Madrid held on to their narrow lead to bag all three points. The result saw them jump up to the top of the La Liga table, with 13 points from 5 games, although rivals Barcelona will have a chance to reclaim the top spot on Sunday night.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) September 22, 2018
And here we run the rule over Real Madrid’s performance against Espanyol on Saturday;
Thibaut Courtois: 6/10
Had a straightforward stop to make from Hernan Perez’s strike in the first period. Wasn’t really tested after that from the visitors. Distribution fairly solid, although some of his long-range passes failed to find the intended target. A relatively comfortable outing for the former Chelsea superstar.
Alvaro Odriozola: 7/10
Handed a start in place of Carvajal, the summer signing made a strong impression on the night against Espanyol. Got up and down the right-side with great energy, with his pace allowing to recover in the face of any threat on his side.
Raphael Varane: 6/10
The World Cup winner was caught out on a couple of occasions when the visitors broke forward but did what was asked of him to ensure that Madrid came away with the clean sheet. Still not at his best, but got the job done.
Sergio Ramos: 5/10
The Real Madrid captain’s positioning was all over the place as he constantly left his team exposed with his forward forays. One such instance allowed Espanyol their first big chance in the game, while his mistake in the second period almost cost them the win, but Borja’s effort bounced off the bar.
Had a goal-bound header saved by Diego Lopez after the restart, but defensively left a lot to be desired.
Slotted in at left-back as Marcelo was left out on the bench, the Spanish international did not offer the same outlet going forward as the Brazilian does, but was resolute defensively. Very little got behind him on the night.
Luka Modric: 7/10
The Croatian superstar was in fine nick in the first period as his technical brilliance put him a class above his peers. Modric demonstrated sharp link-up play and excellent work rate to help his team out in all parts of the field. It was his deflected pass that led to Asensio’s goal. Grew tired in the second period.
A needless yellow card aside, it was a solid display from the Brazilian international on Saturday. Dropped in as a third central defender when needed, while getting forward when the opportunity presented itself. Came close with a header in the first period.
Dani Ceballos: 7/10
Starting in place of Kroos for the Merengues, the Spanish international was involved in a lot of good things that his side produced in the attacking half of the field. Made four key passes on the night and displayed some classy touches, while holding on to the ball under pressure in the middle. Withdrawn early in the second period, despite a strong start after the break.
The Spanish playmaker caused plenty of problems to the visitors’ backline with his sharp movement across the frontline. His strong link-up with Odriozola on the right-side opened up a great avenue for Madrid but failed to yield a goal. Saw an effort drift just wide in the second period, while he hit a perfect cross to set Ramos up for a chance.
Karim Benzema: 4/10
A dull showing from the French forward. While his movement was sharp, Benzema offered little in terms of goal threat and it wasn’t a surprise to see him get hauled off for Mariano at the hour-mark.
Marco Asensio: 7/10
Facing his former club, the Spaniard did not start all that well but got into the game with time and scored the only goal of the match with an excellent finish. Always looked to get in behind the defence, but his end product left a lot to be desired on a number of occasions.
Made his second La Liga debut for the club, replacing Benzema at the hour-mark. Added energy but no clear cut chances.
Lucas Vazquez: 5/10
Came on for Ceballos in the 63rd minute. Did little to impact the proceedings towards the end of the match.
Marcos Llorente: N/A
Replaced Isco for the final ten minutes of the match.