Real Madrid beat Espanyol on Sunday night thanks to a brace from Karim Benzema, a Sergio Ramos header and a Gareth Bale goal from the bench.
Espanyol 2-4 Real Madrid: match report
Karim Benzema looks back to his very best as Real Madrid swept Espanyol aside for their third victory in LaLiga in a row and back into third spot after Sevilla nicked it off them with their win on Saturday afternoon.
Real Madrid had Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos to call on again but only the German made the starting XI with Bale's influence off the bench ending the game as a competition in the second half. Marcelo was left on the bench against for an impressive Sergio Reguilón and Isco, again forgotten barely budged from his spot on the sideline.
The visitors got off to a glorious start when Luka Modric burrowed his way through the middle and poked a shot towards Diego Lopez only to see it saved. Karim Benzema was on hand, however, to turn the rebound home after four minutes.
Sergio Ramos doubled their lead after 15 minutes with his 10th goal of the season, his 83rd in a Real Madrid shirt, and his 50th header. His experience with his noggin was on display as he looped past Lopez.
The game looked over at that point with Espanyol showing little ambition and even when they did, they couldn't manage any kind of meaningful attack. That was until Leo Baptistao got a stroke of luck as a deflected shot landed to him only to see him blaze into the roof of the net beyond a helpless thibaut Courtois.
The next 20 minutes, until the break, was as competitive as it would get as the home side started to fight for possession and fight, in general, as Leo Baptistao was lucky to avoid punishment for a hefty aerial challenge on Reguilón and Sergio Ramos suffered a late challenge from Sergio Garcia.
The Real Madrid defender would have to come off at the break with no news on the knee injury that forced him off. Emilio Butragueño said he "suffered some discomfort" but would not say how bad it was.
But before the break, Benzema cut in from the left and played the ball to Vinicius, before recieving the ball back and curling past the keeper to make it 3-1.
Real Madrid continued to dominate in the second half with Espanyol lacking the finishing touch needed to put pressure on their opponents and Gareth Bale finished matter on 67 minutes. He was on the field just three minutes and he blasted home after good work from Lucas Vazquez.
Espanyol, with nothing left to lose, came out of their shell. Their new found attacking intent was helped by Raphael Varane's red card as he clipped Pablo Piatti in a clear goalscoring position.
Roberto Rosales rounded out the scoring with an 81st minutes screamed as he chested down a pass over the top and slammed beyond Courtois.
But that was it as the scoreline gives the impression that Espanyol were in with a shout. They weren't and Rubi might be wondering what's next as the club's president flew in to dine with Florentino Perez and assess the running of the club.
No such problems for Santiago Solari though as they remain on the winning path and with Benzema and Modric in such form and players returning form injuries in droves, they could continue on that path for some time.
Espanyol vs Real Madrid: live match updates
90'+4' GAME OVER!
90'+1' Four minutes of added time as Real Madrid sit back and soak up whatever Espanyol have to throw at them.
90' Free hit by Sergio Garcia and it's a mile over the bar.
90' Espanyol with another free as Piatti is taken down by Carvajal. Ball in a dangerous position.
89' Yellow for Nacho as he breaks the flow of the game after taking down Alex Lopez.
87' Espanyol trying to get a third as the ball played through to Iglesias and he can't reach it. Not bad from them in the last 15 but they're playing with a man advantage and Real Madrid have taken their foot off the pedal.
83' Finish by Rosales as it was clipped over the top. He chested it down and absolutely buried it.
81' WHAT A GOAL! Gone to VAR but the referee gives it. 4-2. Roasles with the finish.
79' Shot by Alex Lopez but that's not putting a dent in Real Madrid's lead. Way over the bar as Courtois takes his time over this one.
76' Modric sacrificed and rested as Marcelo is brought on.
74' A number of chances for Espanyol. Iglesias in and nearly rounds Courtois and the ball is clipped back inside. Headed off the line by Carvajal and then Sergio Garcia with the weak shot into Courtois.
73' Real Madrid down to ten men.
72' RED CARD! Varane sent off for a foul on Piatti. The attacker got in ahead of him and Varane clipped him. Free for Espanyol in a dangerous position.
70' Corner headed wide.
70' Brilliant stop fro Carvajal. Benzema with a brilliant little take down and flick into his path. Lopez saves. Benzema is transformed.
69' Baptistao off the field now after that one. Looked to be caught on the ankle.
67' Leo Baptistao gives the ball away and Lucas Vazquez wins it back. Benzema brings it inside and Bale slots it home after winning it in the middle.
67' BALE! Finish. 4-1 and he buries into the back of the net. No nonsense there.
67' Benzema with a cross deep to Vazquez and he sends it back inside.
66' Kroos taking his time over this one. Bale in the middle looking hungry. Ball sent in and it's cleared by Espanyol.
65' Corner for Real Madrid.
64' Change for Real Madrid. Bale on for Vinicius.
63' Leo Baptistao taken down by Reguilón but looked harsh. Referee with a home town decision on that one, it looks like.
62' Vinicius with a run down the left. He had been quieter in this second half. Runs out of room though as Diego Lopez saves.
59' Benzema with an effort. He was offside, but replays says he wasn't. He drags one wide though. Modric and Benzema unstoppable so far.
57' Benzema with the ball into Modric. He has a great chance and he curls one into the corne rbut Lopez saves. Corner but Benzema was brilliant.
56' Kroos tries one from downtown now and it goes the same way as Iglesias' effort. Over the bar.
55' Borja Iglesias blazes ofer outside the area. That's not great but he did great work to get into the position. Espanyol lacking that finishing touch.
54' Vinicius stood on Lluis Lopez in the penalty area. He goes down and looked like a strange one as Vinicius backed into him. No VAR and no punishment as play continues.
53' Modric with a foul on Leo Baptistao and the corner is wasted.
51' Pass by Lucas Vazquez into the path of Carvajal. Caught the defender out so well but Carvajal's cross is poor and into the feet of the first defender. Out for a corner.
51' Bale out to warm up for Real Madrid.
50' Foul by Modric on Alex Lopez. Loads of niggly fouls in this one. Feels like it might be just about to tip over into pure aggression but not yet.
49' Didac taken down late by Lucas Vazquez. Free for Espanyol.
48' Leo Baptistao wins it back for Espanyol and then a really poor touch gifts it back to Espanyol.
46' We are back underway!
Nacho will replace Sergio Ramos. He is injured after the cruncher by Sergio Garcia.
45'+1' FINISH! Benzema is back. His second goal as the ball comes in fromt the left from him, touched back to him by Vinicius (or maybe took a nick off an Espanyol defender) and he curls it into the bottom corner. 3-1. Just at the end of the half too.
45'+1' Two minutes of added time.
45'+1' Vazquez whips it out to Vinicius. One last attack for Real Madrid.
44' Foul on Borja Iglesias. Taken quickly by Real Madrid and Vazauez sends it towards Benzema. Headed wide. Espanyol fans not happy with the whistle earlier on Borja Iglesias.
43' Reguilón with a dangerous ball into the middle and loses it. Nice attack from Espanyol and Ramos pokes it away from the attacker as they clear their lines.
43' Hand ball as Lucas Vazquez tries to flick the ball over the Espanyol defender.
42' Long ball to Borja Iglesias. Nice battle between Varane and the striker as Borja puts him under pressure and wins a throw for Espanyol.
40' Real Madrid taking over again now but no chances like they had in the opening few minutes.
38' Hermoso and Lucas Vazquez do battle out on the sideline and it's a throw for Real Madrid.
33' Sergio Garcia booked for that effort on Ramos.
33' He's up on his feet but that looked really sore.
33' Sore one on Ramos. Sergio Garcia catches his knee and he hits the ground. Really sore one for the defender and his knee looked to bend uncomfortably.
32' Lovely play by Espanyol but the ball out to the left is too hard and they lose possession.
31' Leo Baptistao absolutely bulldozes Reguilón out of the way in the air. Foul on the defender and a pain in his head too, I'd say.
29' Game has sprung to life now after that goal. Espanyol showing some pride and putting pressure on Real Madrid after letting them own the ball for the first 20.
27' Ramos with a foul and a yellow card for a foul on Leo Baptistao. He collided with the player and knew exactly what he was doing. He has a go at the referee then and he is seriously not happy.
24' Baptistao adds his second of the season.
24' Baptistao. GOAL! He makes no mistake that time. From the corner the shot comes in and bounces outside the box. Deflection lands to Baptistao and he buries it into the roof of the net. Nice finish. 1-2 after 25 minutes.
24' What a save. Lovely ball in behind for Borja Iglesias and he drives a shot at goal. Courtois with a really strong hand to deny him.
24' Carvajal with a foul on Alex Lopez. He breaks up an attack quite smartly.
23' Carvajal recovers.
22' Sore on for Carvajal. He took a late head to his head by Borja Iglesias.
21' Real Madrid continue with their pressure. They're all over Espanyol now, who can't get a kick of it.
18' Vazquez with a nice combo with Benzema and he gets it back before shooting off balance. Pokes it towards goal and Diego Lopez saves that one. A dribbler towards goal in the end.
17' 17 minutes in and it looks like a lost cause for Espanyol already.
15' Ramos! What a header by the captain. Corner goes short and Modric crosses it in and he loops one beyond Diego Lopez. Lovely execution.
14' Courtois clears up the field as Iglesias closes in. Vinicius wins it on the left and cuts in. Kroos launches one at goal and it's a deflection for a corner.
13' Casemiro with another foul. This time's it's Alex Lopez who feels his wrath. No yellow but Casemiro shrugs as if there was nothing in it. Free for Espanyol as Sergio Garcia gets ready to take.
11' Another attack down the right as Carvajal swings it in. Cleared as far as a Real Madrid player and they attack again. Espanyol under pressure down that side of the field and Real Madrid exploiting them.
10' Lucas Vazquez drives a cross low and into the area. Cleared and Espanyol attack down the line. Iglesias with a nice flick but it's out of Sergio Garcia's reach.
9' Roca has the ball nicked off him by Benzema. Madrid recover high up the field.
7' Sergio Garcia fouls Carvajal as he falls awkwardly in the box. Free for Madrid as they continue to dominate. Espanyol have to come out of their shell now and throws Rubi's plans completely out the window now.
6' Kroos grabbed by Marco Roca as he drove forward. And that's a yellow card. He can't have many complaints either.
5' Espanyol with it all to do now. Casemiro with a foul on Sergi Darder in the middle. The Brazilian can afford a smile as he thinks he was innocent.
4' GOAL! GOAL! GOAL! Modric drives into the middle and pokes a shot forward. Saved by Lopez and into the path of Benzema. GOAL. 1-0
2' Real Madrid in their red strip. Vinicius drives down the left and cuts inside before shooting into Diego Lopez' gloves. Nice effort and stung his hands.
1' We are underway!
Teams emerge from the tunnel. Bale having a laugh with his teammates before they leave.
"Vinicius is a delight to watch; he's playing like the star he is," says Rodrygo, who will be hoping to do the same once he arrives in Madrid. Vinicius has displaced Bale and there could very well be a battle for that left attacking position. The Welsh man is just back from injury but Vinicius really has been that good in the last seven games.
Reguilón has been a revelation this season and has even replaced Marcelo as a starter for now. Real Madrid are set to renew his contract with improved conditions.
Yansheng will dine with Florentino and he wants to have a look at how the club is being run and could be making some changes this week. If Espanol suffer a heavy loss, you have to fear for Rubi's future.
Vinicius' seventh start in a row and Kroos returns while Bale sits on the bench along with Marcelo, who has been replaced by Reguilón.
Espanyol XI: D. López, Javi López, Lluís, Mario Hermoso, Dídac, Darder, Roca, A. López, Baptistao, Sergio García, Borja Iglesias.
Real Madrid XI: Courtois, Carvajal , Varane, Ramos, Reguilón, Casemeiro, Modric, Kroos, Lucas Vázquez, Vinicius, Benzema.
Hello and welcome to our live online coverage of Espanyol vs Real Madrid in LaLiga. Kick-off 20:45 CET.
Espanyol vs Real Madrid live online: preview
Real Madrid play Espanyol at RCDE Stadium in the last installment of LaLiga action of the weekend with a 20:45 CET kick-off from Barcelona. Espanyol, who have been sinking like a stone under Rubi despite a very positive start, will be hoping to build on their win over Leganés in their last Liga home game after a horrible run while Real Madrid have had two positive results in a row with wins over Sevilla and Girona in the Copa as they try to make that three in a row and improve confidence further under Santiago Solari.
Espanyol beat Leganés in their last home game thanks to a Borja Iglesias goal but lost to Real Sociedad the following week as their bright start under Rubi continues to dissipate and fade into the past. Rubi's record against Real Madrid does not make for great reading and he has failed on the three attempts he has made to beat them. Espanyol's record isn't a whole lot better with just one win since 2007. The positive thing about that is the win came last season thanks to a Gerard Moreno goal. He has left for Villarreal but Iglesis looks the part up front for the Barcelona's based side and they will be relying on him to help them to a result on Sunday night.
Real Madrid welcome Gareth Bale back into their squad but all signs point to a Karim Benzema, Vinicius duo in attack with Lucas Vazquez set to continue on the right hand side. The Brazilian winger has taken his chance due to injuries and is Real Madrid's best player in 2019. Solari says Benzema is very generous and has been playing in might Spain but he has been playing very well with the lively Vinicius by his side and Real Madrid have improved. Toni Kroos should also start in midfield with Casemiro and Modric while Marcelo's exile is set to continue with Sergio Reguilón impressing in his stead.