MX23RW : Tuesday, February 19 19:55:29
Sep 22, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 67,658
Real Madrid
1-0
Espanyol
Asensio (41')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Result: Marco Asensio fires Real Madrid past Espanyol

Marco Asensio's 41st-minute strike against former club Espanyol earns Real Madrid a 1-0 win at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid have defeated Espanyol 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu to climb to the top of the La Liga table, earning the points through a first-half strike from Marco Asensio.

The Spain international, previously on Espanyol's books during a 2015-16 loan spell, found a way through 41 minutes in against his former club for what proved to be the winning moment.

Los Blancos toiled in the second half and could have extended their advantage, but Espanyol also had a big chance of their own as Borja Iglesias hit the crossbar with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beaten.

Marco Asensio celebrates after scoring the opening goal for Real Madrid in their La Liga meeting with Espanyol on September 22, 2018© Reuters

The home side should have been ahead with five minutes played, only for Isco to shin the ball wide of goal when picked out in the middle.

Visiting boss Rubi made three changes to his side, taking out Sergio Garcia and Leo Baptistao from the forward line with an eye on padding out his midfield and focusing on the counter.

One of the players brought in nearly took full advantage, as the ball was worked to Pablo Piatti and he fired it wide of the target.

Despite dominating possession in the first half, Real - two points better off than this stage last season heading into the match - were struggling to create any clear-cut openings in the first half.

Raphael Varane headed wide from a rare chance, while up the other end Hernan Perez shot too close to Courtois at the end of another Espanyol counter.

That near-miss for the Periquitos may have acted as a wake-up call for Madrid, as five minutes later they were in front through Asensio's drilled finish.

The Spanish attacker took Luka Modric's deflected shot in his path and made no mistake - VAR ruling that he was not standing in an offside position.

Building on their strong end to the first half, Real nearly doubled their advantage early in the second period as Modric's shot was saved by Diego Lopez.

Isco then curled one wide as the European champions looked for a killer second, but complacency then began to creep in and Espanyol should have profited.

Sergio Ramos was caught in possession at the back and Iglesias was through on goal, but his chipped attempt over Courtois came back off the crossbar.

The experienced centre-back was kept out by a good Lopez save at the other end of the field as he looked to take matters into his own hands, and the Espanyol keeper was also equal to substitute Marcos Llorente's shot.

Espanyol probed away in the closing stages to no avail, leaving them without a win here since 1996, while Madrid climb above Barcelona into top spot ahead of the champions' game in hand against Girona on Sunday.

REAL MADRID (4-3-3): Courtois; Nacho, Ramos, Varane, Odriozola; Casemiro, Modric, Ceballos (Vazquez 62'); Isco (Llorente 78'), Benzema (Mariano 59'), Asensio

ESPANYOL (4-5-1): Diego Lopez; Javi Lopez, Naldo, Hermoso, Vila; Perez (Garcia 70'), Marc Roca, Darder (Sanchez 55'), Granero, Piatti (Baptistao 54'); Iglesias

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Real Madrid's Thibaut Courtois and Sergio Ramos shake hands on September 1, 2018
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1Manchester CityMan City27212474205465
2Liverpool26205159154465
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs26200654252960
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd26156552351751
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6Chelsea26155645291650
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2611693433139
8Watford2610793434037
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10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2696113239-733
11Bournemouth26103133747-1033
12Leicester CityLeicester2695123134-332
13Crystal Palace2676132734-727
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2676132839-1127
15Burnley2676132947-1827
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2667132234-1225
17Cardiff CityCardiff2674152447-2325
18Southampton2659122844-1624
19Fulham2645172558-3317
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2625191448-3411

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