Real Madrid vs. Espanyol: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterMay 17, 2014

Real Madrid's Sami Khedira from Germany, right, duels for the ball with Espanyol's Hector Moreno from Mexico during a Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, May 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

Real Madrid 3-1 Espanyol

Real Madrid warmed up for the Champions League final with a 3-1 home win over Espanyol, but injury concerns for Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema ahead of the Champions League final next week almost marred the victory.

Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

Gareth Bale and an Alvaro Morata double were enough to see Los Blancos finish the La Liga season on a winning note, with Pizzi grabbing a late consolation for the visitors

But the concern for Real came moments before the game when Ronaldo was forced to withdraw from the starting XI after sustaining an injury in the warm-up.

The Portugal international was replaced by Isco in Carlo Ancelotti's team, but the worry over his availability for the Champions League final was allayed after the match.

Ancelotti revealed that neither Ronaldo nor Benzema were doubtful for the final in Lisbon next Saturday, as reported.

The Real Madrid head coach said:

Cristiano wasn't comfortable in the warm-up and we decided not to take any risks.

We are not worried because we think he can play the (Champions League) final.

Benzema had a twinge in the adductor and he shouldn't have any problem in playing the final.

The news will come as a huge relief for Real, who will be seeking their first Champions League crown since 2002 next weekend.

Benzema, who was later withdrawn with an injury concern, missed a good early chance in the 13th minute when he headed over from a Marcelo cross, as the home side chased the game.

Sergio Ramos forced a great save from Kiko Casilla after some neat footwork in the 22nd minute, but the game was relatively flat in the opening quarter.

A Bale volley livened up the match in the 28th minute, but his effort went wide. Two minutes later, Marcelo was denied by Casilla, whose chest blocked a drive from the Brazil international.

Espanyol barely left their own half in the first period, but Real were guilty of wasting countless chances to open the scoring.

The visitors did manage to carve out a 40th-minute opening to almost stun the Bernabeu crowd when Victor Sanchez chased down the right wing before delivering a cross for Simao Sabrosa, whose shot flew just wide.

Bale set up an early second-half opportunity for Benzema, but the French striker just missed out to Hector Moreno, who cleared the danger.

Espanyol almost stunned the home crowd again in the 50th minute when Iker Casillas was required to make a great tackle to prevent David Lopez racing through on goal.

That chance clearly spurred the home side and Angel Di Maria saw his effort fly into the side netting as Real rallied.

This was much better from Real, who were beginning to find rhythm as the second half progressed. Clearly, the loss of Ronaldo moments before the game had taken its toll, but Ancelotti's team were now getting it together.

Ancelotti brought on Luka Modric for Sami Khedira in the 63rd minute and moments later Real went ahead.

Benzema played a reverse pass to the feet of Bale, and the former Tottenham star placed the ball beyond Casilla. 

In the 68th minute, Real were forced into another change when Benzema appeared to be struggling. The Frenchman was replaced by Alvaro Morata.

Isco wasted a 75th-minute opportunity when his poor ball inside the area was comfortably cut out by the visitors, while Raphael Varane then had to be on his guard at the other end as Sergio Garcia threatened.

Casillas found himself in the thick of the action in the 81st minute when he got behind Alex's drive for Espanyol.

In the 86th minute, though, Real effectively sealed the win through Morata. Ramos moved forward for the home side before laying the ball out to Angel Di Maria on the right flank. The Argentina international's ball found the substitute, who slotted home to make it 2-0.

Espanyol pulled a goal back in the 90th minute when Pizzi fired home after connecting with a Sergio Garcia through ball.

The scoring did not finish there, however, and Real restored their two-goal advantage courtesy of Morata, who again slid home from Di Maria's ball.


Selected player ratings

Gareth Bale: A

A quiet start to the game, but the Wales international started to rally as the game went on. He deserved his goal and worked hard throughout.


Iker Casillas: A-

Barely required in the first period, but needed to be sharp to deny Espanyol early in the second half. Also produced a solid stop as visitors threatened in the second 45 minutes.


Kiko Casilla: A-

Kept Espanyol in the game in the first 45 minutes with a number of good saves. Could do little to prevent the three Real Madrid goals.


What's ahead

Real Madrid will now turn their attention to La Decima, the chase for a 10th European Cup/Champions League, when they take on Atletico Madrid in Lisbon next Saturday.

Espanyol will use the summer break to prepare for next season's La Liga.


Post-match reaction