MX23RW : Friday, June 25 04:54:22| >> :120:21314:21314:
Jan 31, 2016 at 7.30pm UK at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
Real Madrid
6-0
Espanyol
Benzema (7'), Ronaldo (12' pen., 45', 82'), Rodriguez (16'), Duarte (86' og.)
FT(HT: 4-0)

Live Commentary: Real Madrid 6-0 Espanyol - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live commentary of the La Liga clash between Real Madrid and Espanyol at the Bernabeu, which ended in a 6-0 home win.
2

Real Madrid welcomed an out-of-form Espanyol to the Bernabeu on Sunday evening knowing that a win would see them cut the gap on the La Liga leaders Barcelona to four points.

The hosts made secure of the points inside 16 minutes, with Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo (penalty) and James Rodriguez all on the scoresheet for the rampant capital side.

That was not where the first-half scoring ended, however, with Ronaldo adding his second of the match just before the break for 4-0.

Chances were fewer and further between in the second period, but Ronaldo was at it again as the Portuguese completed his hat-trick in the 82nd minute, before an Oscar Duarte own-goal made it six late on.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action below.


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Evening all! Sports Mole's live La Liga coverage continues from the Bernabeu as Real Madrid welcome Espanyol. We might still be in January, but you sense that Real Madrid cannot afford to drop more points here. Barcelona are currently seven points clear at the top of the division and it is difficult to imagine them slipping up on too many occasions in the final months of the campaign!

To suggest that the omens are not great for Espanyol tonight would be putting it very mildly. The Catalan side have actually lost 13 of their last 16 league games against Real Madrid and failed to win in the process. What's more, Espanyol are the opponents that Real Madrid have defeated on more occasions than any other La Liga side (96). It gets worse though – against no other La Liga team have Real Madrid scored more goals than they have managed against Espanyol (359). Crikey!

Real Madrid thumped Espanyol 6-0 when the pair met in the league earlier this campaign, while they also scored four in Barcelona towards the end of last season. In fact, Real Madrid have scored 17 goals in their last five games against Espanyol and conceded just twice. The statistics seem to suggest that Espanyol need a minor, or major, miracle to stop the home side winning tonight.

Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from the Spanish capital. Are there any surprises in the two lineups? Let's take a look shall we...

TEAMS:

REAL: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Isco; James, Benzema, Ronaldo

ESP: Arlauskis; Lopez, Alvaro, Roco, Duarte; Diop, Sanchez; Mamadou, Jordan, Sevilla; Perez


So there we have it. Gareth Bale is still on the sidelines for Real Madrid with a calf problem, which has allowed James Rodriguez to keep his spot in the final third alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. Isco also starts in the middle of the park alongside Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, but there is a change at right-back as Dani Carvajal is given the nod ahead of Danilo. The skipper Sergio Ramos also returns as he continues to battle against a long-standing shoulder problem.

Sergio Ramos for Real Madrid on September 20, 2014© Getty Images


As for Espanyol, they are currently very light in the final third. Their top scorer this season, Felipe Caicedo, misses out through injury, while Gerard Moreno is suspended. Those two are joined on the sidelines by both Victor Alvarez and Anaitz Arbilla, making Espanyol's task even tougher tonight. Hernan Perez has been picked to lead the line with support from Joan Jordan, while there is a debut between the sticks as on-loan Watford goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis is given the nod over Pau Lopez.

So there we have it. The two teams are in and we are now little over 35 minutes from kickoff on this mild evening in Madrid. As touched upon, it is a must-win game for the home side. Yesterday, Barcelona recorded a 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid in their top-of-the-table clash to move three points clear of second-place Atletico and seven points clear of third-place Real Madrid.

Barcelona have not lost in the league, or indeed in any competition, since the start of October and it is paramount that Real Madrid close the gap to four points tonight. That said, Barcelona would still have a game in hand due to their involvement in the Club World Cup last month. What's more, fourth-place Villarreal are actually now level with Real Madrid on 44 points.

Zidane's first two league matches in charge of Real Madrid ended in 5-0 and 5-1 home wins respectively, but the Frenchman saw his team held 1-1 at Real Betis last weekend. They have wobbled on the road this season, but Los Blancos have won their last five league games on home soil and scored an average of over five goals per game. Again, good luck to Espanyol tonight.

Karim Benzema celebrates with Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos during the game between Real Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna on January 9, 2016© AFP


Real Madrid are currently the highest scorers in the league with 58 goals, but they have conceded 20 times, suggesting that there are still problems at the back. The goals are still flowing for Ronaldo, but Benzema and Bale have outshone the Portuguese in recent weeks. The Spanish giants are desperate to end Barcelona's dominance in the league, but they have already dropped points in eight of their 21 league games this term. In truth, they now have little room for manoeuvre in the league.

It is a very, very important period of the season for Real Madrid, who will travel to struggling Granada in the league next weekend, before welcoming in-form Athletic Bilbao on February 13. Champions League football then returns and the Spanish side have a two-legged affair against Serie A outfit Roma, who caused Barcelona some problems in the group stages this season. February will then end with a trip to a stern Malaga side and the small matter of capital rivals Atletico Madrid at home.

Real Madrid's French assistant coach Zinedine Zidane looks on before the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF vs Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on August 18, 2013© Getty Images


Real Madrid are actually on a three-game winless run away from home in the league, however, having dropped points at Villarreal (losing 1-0) and against Valencia (2-2 draw). Home form has not been a problem, but while Barcelona and Atletico have been grinding out victories on the road, Real Madrid have been guilty of dropping points. That just has to change as the season continues to gather pace.

In Real Madrid's way this evening is an Espanyol side that have really struggled in recent weeks. The Catalan outfit are currently on a seven-game winless run in all competitions, with their last victory of any sort coming in the league against Las Palmas on December 19. Since then, they have been knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Barcelona and lost against Sevilla, Eibar and Getafe in the league.

In fact, Espanyol have only won one of their last nine in the league and just two of their last 13. That poor run of form has seen them drop into 14th position and the Barcelona-based club are now just two points outside of the relegation zone. That said, there was vast improvement in their performance levels last weekend as they managed to hold high-flying Villarreal to a 2-2 draw.

Espanyol have lost their last seven away games in the league, however, and another defeat this evening would equal their worst run on the road since 2002. No La Liga side has lost more away games than Espanyol this season (nine), which is not a record that will fill their supporters with confidence.

Neymar and Hernan Perez in action during the game between Espanyol and Barcelona on January 2, 2016© AFP


Espanyol, now managed by Constantin Galca, finished 10th in La Liga last season, some 17 points clear of the relegation zone. They lost 15 of their 38 league games last term, but have already suffered 11 defeats this season, suggesting that it is going to be a bottom-half finish this time around. It would be a big shock if they were actually sucked into the bottom three, but an upturn in form is needed as the White and Blues look for a boost of confidence. Prediction time!

PREDICTION! I can only see one outcome tonight and that is a very comfortable home win. Espanyol have a rotten record against Real Madrid and the visitors are, in my opinion, missing too many key players to stand a chance of causing a major upset. My score prediction is 4-0 Real Madrid.

Just a reminder of the two teams for tonight...

REAL: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Isco; James, Benzema, Ronaldo

ESP: Arlauskis; Lopez, Alvaro, Roco, Duarte; Diop, Sanchez; Mamadou, Jordan, Sevilla; Perez


KICKOFF! Here we go then - both sets of players join us on the pitch for the first period. Can Espanyol pull off a shock tonight? It is the home side that get the action underway in Madrid...

... as expected, Real Madrid have taken control of the possession in the opening couple of minutes, with Espanyol already taking up a defensive shape. The visitors will want to get through the opening 10, 15 minutes without conceding, but that is definitely easier said than done at the Bernabeu!

CHANCE! Marcelo finds himself inside the Espanyol box after a smart pass from James, but the left-back's effort rises over the crossbar. First warning for the visitors in this match!

SAVE! Ronaldo has a go from the edge of the box, but Espanyol's new goalkeeper, who is making his debut for the club here, gets down to make a smart save.

Espanyol are just not in the game at the moment as the home side continue to pass and probe in the final third of the field. It looks a case of when, rather than if Real Madrid will take the lead.

Isco is the next Real Madrid player to have a strike towards goal after working a yard of space outside the box, but the Spaniard's effort is just wide of the post. Could be 3-0 already here.

GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Espanyol (Benzema)

It had been coming. Real Madrid take the lead in the seventh minute of action as Benzema heads a James cross into the bottom corner. Espanyol are seriously wobbling at the moment.

Espanyol would have wanted to keep things tight for the opening 10, 15 minutes and attempt to frustrate the home supporters, but Real Madrid mean business tonight and it could well be a cricket score. They hit 10 against Rayo Vallecano last month and have started so well here.

PENALTY REAL MADRID!

Real Madrid have a penalty as Roco brings Ronaldo to the ground inside the box...

... GOAL! Real Madrid 2-0 Espanyol (Ronaldo, pen)

Ronaldo makes no mistake from the spot to send Real Madrid two goals ahead.

BOOKING! Perez (Espanyol) is booked for dissent.

Game over then inside 12 minutes! It is tough on Espanyol, but they are not really helping themselves at the moment. The visitors just cannot keep hold of the ball at the Bernabeu.

GOAL! Real Madrid 3-0 Espanyol (James)

Real Madrid have their third as James's strike hits Diop and deflects into the back of the net.

Rare half-chance for the visitors as Perez meets a bouncing ball outside the Real Madrid box, but his effort was always rising over the crossbar. This is already a damage limitation exercise!

Espanyol just need a two, three-minute period with the ball here, just to quell some of the pressure. Real Madrid are coming forward in wave after wave and they look capable of scoring each time they advance into the final third. I almost want to throw the towel in for the visitors!

The fact that Real Madrid are already 3-0 ahead is not great for the game. Los Blancos have been known to take their foot off the pedal when the points are secure and that is not good news for anyone really, well apart from Espanyol. A couple of minutes have passed without another goal.

Benzema has another strike towards goal after a smart pass from Ronaldo, but the Frenchman was in an offside position. Espanyol seriously cannot keep hold of the ball at the moment.


Well, Espanyol have managed to put their foot on the ball in the last few moments and Diop does well to win a free kick in the middle of the park. They are not going to take anything from this match, but they will not want to be absolutely thumped. Real Madrid might well have some mercy.

Wave after wave of Real Madrid pressure as they continue to switch the ball from left to right, but Espanyol have managed to win a couple of first balls and clear their lines. Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining and the home side are already seeking their fourth goal here.

Not an awful lot to report in terms of attacking football in the last few minutes, but Real Madrid are still very much in control of the possession. Benzema manages to release a strike inside the Espanyol box, but the Frenchman was falling backwards and his tame effort was blocked by Roco.

Real Madrid have a free kick in a dangerous area as Carvajal is felled by Jordan...

... Ronaldo leaves it for James, but the latter's effort is over the crossbar!

Half-chance for the home side as James delivers towards the back post where Ronaldo is lurking, but the attacker cannot find Benzema with a flick. There is no question that Real Madrid have dropped off the pace, but they are still capable of scoring whenever they break forward.

BOOKING! Diop (Espanyol) is booked for a late challenge on Kroos.

Alvaro meets a free kick from Diop as Espanyol create a half-chance, but the defender's header was always over the crossbar. The atmosphere in the stands has really dropped now.

The referee has been forced to intervene in the last couple of moments following a number of late challenges and the match has become a little untidy as we approach the half-time break.

Couple of half-chances for the home side in quick succession, but Isco has a strike blocked before James's effort is deflected over the crossbar. Still 3-0 to Real Madrid in the capital.

BOOKING! Sylla (Espanyol) is booked for a poor challenge on James.

Seriously scrappy game at the moment as the challenges continue to fly in.

CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Espanyol to grab a goal late in the half as Sevilla breaks through on goal, but Navas gets down to make a smart save!

GOAL! Real Madrid 4-0 Espanyol (Ronaldo)

Stunning from Ronaldo as the Portuguese shows wonderful feet to evade two defenders, before smashing one into the far corner. It is a sensational individual goal from the attacker!

HALF-TIME: Real Madrid 4-0 Espanyol

So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Real Madrid leading 4-0 courtesy of goals from Benzema, Ronaldo (2) and James. In truth, it has been just about as one-sided as you could possibly imagine for a game at this level of football. Espanyol have had a couple of good moments on the counter, but Real Madrid really could be six or seven ahead here.

STATISTICS! Real Madrid have dominated the possession with 72%, while they have had 12 attempts - five of which were on target. Espanyol, meanwhile, hit the target with just one of their five attempts in that first period. There have also been four yellow cards - all for Espanyol.

BENCH WATCH! Not that Zidane is short of attacking talent on the field, but the Frenchman has the likes of Jese, Lucas Vasquez and Kovacic on his bench tonight. Espanyol boss Galca, meanwhile, has options in the shape of Canas, Abraham and Montanes, but he needs to reinforce the defence!

MATCH PIC!

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring during the La Liga game between Real Madrid and Espanyol on January 31, 2016© Getty Images


RESTART! Here we go then - both sets of players re-join us on the pitch for the second period. Can Real Madrid increase their advantage here? It is Espanyol that resume the action...

... ESPANYOL SUBS! O Duarte and Fuentes replace R Duarte and Sevilla.

CHANCE! Free header for Roco inside the Real Madrid box, but his effort is wide!

When I predicted 4-0 Real Madrid before the match, I did not mean in the first period. In truth, I am finding it hard to believe that the home side will not score at least a couple more tonight.

Just a reminder that a win for Real Madrid here, which is guaranteed now, will move them to within four points of the leaders Barcelona, although the Catalan outfit would again have a game in hand due to their involvement in the Club World Cup last month. Real Madrid have ground to make up.

Possession football for Real Madrid as they pass and probe in the final third.

Not an awful lot to report in terms of chances early in the second period, but Espanyol are still committing players in the final third, which is leaving all sorts of space in the middle here.

Navas gets down low to keep out a strike from Fuentes, which had pace and direction.

Isco works a yard of space outside the Espanyol box before curling one towards the top corner, but his effort was always moving wide of the post. Third Espanyol change on the way here...

... ESPANYOL SUB! Abraham replaces Victor Sanchez.

Navas has been much more involved in this second period and comes to pluck a loose ball out of the air following another Espanyol free kick. Pretty even game at the moment in Madrid.

No movement on the Real Madrid bench at the moment, but we are entering the stage of the match where Zidane will be considering resting a few of his bigger names ahead of a busy period.

CHANCE! Ronaldo finds the head of Benzema inside the Espanyol box, but the French striker's header is straight at the goalkeeper. Jese is about to enter for the hosts...

... REAL MADRID SUB! Jese replaces Modric.

It is almost like a training match for Real Madrid at the moment as they pass and probe in the final third. Espanyol break and Perez looks for Sylla, but the attacker was in an offside position.

CHANCE! Ronaldo sets up Benzema as Real Madrid threaten to score another, but the Frenchman fires over from close range. Still 4-0 to the home side in Madrid.

In truth, this second period has not been great in terms of entertainment, with Espanyol intent on keeping the score down. Real Madrid have had a couple of half-chances, but there is just not the same intensity from the first period. Ronaldo, though, has another free kick outside the box...

... CLOSE! Ronaldo's effort just lands on the top of the goal!

REAL MADRID SUB! Kroos is replaced by Casemiro.

Not exactly text-book goalkeeping from the Espanyol stopper, but he comes out to challenge Ronaldo and manages to push the attacker off the ball. That was extremely bizarre!

SAVE! Super goalkeeping from Navas as the Real Madrid stopper gets down to keep out an effort from Abraham, who had met a loose ball inside the box.

REAL MADRID SUB! Benzema is replaced by Lucas.

CHANCE! Sylla's eyes light up as he breaks into the Real Madrid box, but Ramos is across to make a fine block and the striker's effort is deflected over the crossbar!

BOOKING! Alvaro (Espanyol) is booked for a late challenge on Jese.

Ronaldo again stands over a free kick outside the box, but this time the attacker crosses it and it goes straight out for a goal kick. Ramos went down yelping, but the referee said no!

Little under 10 minutes of football remaining at the Bernabeu and to be honest, not too much is happening at the moment. It has become a little bit sloppy from both teams in the final third.

GOAL! Real Madrid 5-0 Espanyol (Ronaldo)

Ronaldo completes his hat-trick as the Portuguese heads a Jese cross into the back of the net from close range. Espanyol went to sleep from the quick throw and Jese was alive!

BOOKING! Casemiro (Real Madrid) is booked for a late challenge on Abraham.

GOAL! Real Madrid 6-0 Espanyol (O Duarte OG)

It is six for the home side as Oscar Duarte can only turn a Jese cross into his own net!

Possession football for Real Madrid as they pass and probe in the final third.

Two minutes of additional time to be played here.

FULL-TIME: Real Madrid 6-0 Espanyol

So there we have it. The referee puts Espanyol out of their misery at the Bernabeu, with Real Madrid running out 6-0 winners on home soil to move within four points of the league leaders Barcelona. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action once again. Until next time!

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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CAtletico MadridAtletico38268467254286
2Real Madrid38259467283984
3Barcelona38247785384779
4Sevilla38245953332077
5Real Sociedad3817111059382162
6Real Betis381710115050061
7Villarreal3815131060441658
8Celta Vigo381411135557-253
9Granada38137184765-1846
10Athletic Bilbao381113144642446
11Osasuna381111163748-1144
12CadizCadiz381111163658-2244
13Valencia381013155053-343
14Levante38914154657-1141
15Getafe38911182843-1538
16AlavesAlaves38911183657-2138
17ElcheElche38812183455-2136
RHuesca38713183453-1934
RReal Valladolid38516173457-2331
REibarEibar38612202952-2330

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