Real Madrid 2-0 Espanyol: Isco double secures much-needed home win
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 01/10/17 11:19pm
Real Madrid registered their first home win in La Liga this season as two Isco goals secured a routine 2-0 victory over Espanyol on Sunday night.
Zinedine Zidane's side took the lead after 30 minutes at the Bernabeu as star performer Isco latched onto Cristiano Ronaldo's through-ball before poking the ball under Pau Lopez.
Espanyol could have equalised through Gerard Moreno on the stroke of half-time after a mistake from Casemiro, and the visitors were wasteful in front of goal as Marc Navarro and Leo Baptistao both had golden opportunities.
But Isco made Quique Sanchez Flores' side pay for their sloppiness as he met Marco Asensio's pass after a flowing move to slot home his second of the match and seal all three points.
Real Madrid: : Navas (6), Ramos (6), Varane (6), Nacho (7), Achraf (7), Casemiro (6), Kroos (6), Modric (7), Asensio (7), Isco (8), Ronaldo (6)
Subs: Lucas Vazquez (6), Ceballos (6), Mayoral (6)
Espanyol: Pau Lopez (7), Aaron (6), D. Lopez (7), Fuego (5), Roca (5), Hermoso (7), Sanchez (5), Dardar (5), Jurado (6) Leo Baptistao (6) , Gerard (6)
Subs: Garcia (6), M. Navarro (7), Granero (6)
Man of the match: Isco
For the first time since 1995, Real had failed to win any of their first three home games.
Barcelona's encounter with Las Palmas earlier in the day was played in front of an empty Nou Camp due to the political unrest in Catalonia, but the 3-0 victory achieved by Ernesto Valverde's side meant that victory was of the essence for Madrid.
Real Madrid made two changes to the side that beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 at the Signal Iduna Park in midweek. Dani Carvajal dropped out along with forward Gareth Bale. Achraf Hakimi made his first start for the club, while Marco Asensio also came in. Espanyol made two changes to the side which beat Deportivo 4-1 last time out as Javi Fuego came in for Papakouly Diop, while Pablo Piatti was replaced by Marc Roca.
They very nearly made the perfect start as Isco was put clean through from Sergio Ramos' long ball after just 27 seconds, but Lopez got down low to make the save to his left.
But after fans had demonstrated a call for unity within the country by collectively brandishing Spanish flags in the 12th minute, Madrid duly made their pressure tell through Isco.
Ronaldo fed the 25-year-old, who kept his composure to slide the ball underneath Lopez.
Espanyol barely laid a glove on their opponents in the opening period, but they could so nearly have gone into the break level after Moreno pounced on a mistake from Casemiro to turn and fire a shot against Keylor Navas' right-hand post.
Sanchez Flores still felt obliged to make two half-time changes, with Navarro and Sergio Garcia entering the fray, and the pair made an instant impact with the latter shooting straight at Navas following a mistake from Toni Kroos.
The game's key moment came in the 70th minute as a last-ditch challenge from Nacho on Baptistao denied Espanyol an equaliser, before Madrid put the game to bed.
Esteban Granero, on his return to the Bernabeu, played a sloppy pass that was cut out by Ronaldo, and after he had brought Asensio into play down the left, the ball was worked back to Isco who fired low into the bottom corner.
Madrid saw out the remainder of the contest with minimal fuss, and the victory moves Real up to fifth in the table, a point behind Valencia and Atletico Madrid.
Man of the match - Isco
The Spaniard has added goals to his game this season, to ensure that Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema were not missed on a day when Ronaldo failed to get on the scoresheet.
Espanyol did well to contain the Portuguese, but Isco very nearly broke the deadlock after just 27 seconds. He didn't let his miss affect his performance, however, as he dusted himself down and duly scored both goals in a stunning individual display.
Real are in action away to Getafe on October 14 following the international break, live on Sky Sports Football. Meanwhile, Espanyol host Levante a day earlier.