Real see off gritty Espanyol, Atletico sink Getafe
Published on: September 23, 2018 01:25 (EAT)
Marco Asensio’s strike earned Real Madrid a 1-0 win over Espanyol to send them top of La Liga and Thomas Lemar scored his first goal for Atletico Madrid in a 2-0 victory at Getafe on Saturday. Julen Lopetegui’s Real were tested by Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Borja Iglesias hitting the crossbar, but held on for the victory. After an emphatic Champions League win over AS Roma on Wednesday, Lopetegui shuffled his pack for the visit of Espanyol, sixth in the table after a good start to the season. The coach rested Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Toni Kroos, handing a debut to defender Alvaro Odriozola in place of the injured Dani Carvajal. Real dominated possession but Espanyol were a persistent threat on the break. “(The clean sheet) was really important for us, we don’t want to let in goals,” Real defender Raphael Varane said. “Espanyol played very well but we played as a team and did not concede.” The hosts took the lead four minutes before the break, when Luka Modric’s pass took a triple deflection but found its way to Asensio, who steered home his first goal in La Liga this season. The forward had to wait for VAR to prove he was onside before he could celebrate. Espanyol forward Iglesias robbed Real captain Sergio Ramos after the break and chipped Courtois, but his effort bounced back off the crossbar. “We’re furious (about losing), we had chances to score,” Iglesias said. “I saw (Courtois) off his line and shot but it hit the crossbar. Maybe next time it will go in.” Real held on despite late Espanyol pressure to take top spot before second-placed Barcelona host Girona on Sunday in a Catalan derby.