Result: Karim Benzema strike wins it for Real Madrid

Karim Benzema's strike gives Real Madrid a 1-0 win against Espanyol in the Copa del Rey.

Real Madrid squeezed past Espanyol 1-0 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie at Estadi Cornella-El Prat.

Karim Benzema scored his 14th goal of the season after 25 minutes when he reacted quickest from Gareth Bale's flick-on to nod home.

Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the opener during the Spanish Copa del Rey quarter-final first-leg football match against Espanyol on January 21, 2014© Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo went close with a 30-yard strike before Sergio Garcia nearly grabbed an equaliser after the restart.

Madrid hammered at the Espanyol door in the second period, but they found Kiko Casilla in inspired form.

The keeper denied Ronaldo, Alvaro Arbeloa and Angel di Maria before Iker Casillas made an important save down the other end towards the end of the game from Jhon Cordoba.

Real Madrid's Argentinian midfielder Angel di Maria during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid vs Malaga on October 19, 2013
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