Football news - Brilliant Karim Benzema bags brace as Real Madrid stick four past Espanyol
La Liga, RCDE Stadium - Espanyol 2 (Baptistao 25, Rosales 81) Real Madrid 4 (Benzema 5, 45, Ramos 15, Bale 67)
Real Madrid continued their recent resurgence with a comprehensive 4-2 win over Espanyol as Gareth Bale made a goalscoring return from injury off the bench.
Santiago Solari’s side have hit a rich vein of form of late, turning around their fortunes since the damaging home defeat to Real Sociedad at the start of the month. This result kept their resurgence going, lifting them to third place in La Liga.
Karim Benzema was the standout performer and gave his side the lead after just four minutes, finishing on the rebound following a Luka Modric run and shot. It was 2-0 after 16 minutes. This time, it was Sergio Ramos with the goal, heading home a Modric cross.
Espanyol pulled one back through Leo Baptistao, but Real Madrid restored their two-goal cushion just before the break, with Benzema guiding a low, right-footed finish into the far corner of the net after good work by Vinicius.
Bale made his return from injury off the bench on 63 minutes and scored after 67, pulling off a backheel turn in the box before lashing home a finish to give Real Madrid a seemingly unassailable lead.
However, the dynamic of the match changed when Raphael Varane was shown a straight red card for bringing down Pablo Piatti on the edge of the box. Roberto Rosales pulled one back with seven minutes left to play, but it was too late for Espanyol to mount a real fightback.
Bale Real MadridGetty Images
TALKING POINT - Real Madrid are finding form just in time for the Champions League knockout rounds
We’ve read this story before. Real Madrid have struggled over the winter, with their manager coming under fire. There was even reports that he could be sacked. Now, however, with the Champions League knockout stages on the horizon, things are clicking into place again at the Santiago Bernabeu. They are finding form again at the right time ahead of a season-defining last 16 tie. Sound familiar? They couldn’t pull it off again… could they?
MAN OF THE MATCH - Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Everyone has an opinion on Benzema. Some believe he should have been replaced by now, others claim he is one of European football’s most undervalued players. We can all agree that the Frenchman should probably be scoring more, though, and so this performance was notable for that reason. Benzema is forming quite the understanding with Vinicius and that was clear in his display against Espanyol, in which he scored twice.
Los jugadores del Real Madrid celebran un gol ante el EspanyolGetty Images
4’ GOAL! Espanyol 0-1 Real Madrid: Real Madrid have made a perfect start to this match, but what dismal defending from Espanyol! They allowed Modric to drive into the box almost unopposed, his shot was saved by Lopez and Benzema was on hand to finish the rebound.
16’ GOAL! Espanyol 0-2 Real Madrid: Real Madrid have doubled their advantage! The corner kick was played short to Modric, who whipped a right-footed cross into the box. Ramos got up well and directed his looping header back across goal and into the far corner.
24’ Save by Courtois! Baptistao drives to the byline and gets the shot away. It was a bullet effort, but Courtois makes the save at his near post. He had to stand up tall to make the stop.
25’ GOAL! Espanyol 1-2 Real Madrid: It's game on at RCDE Stadium! Espanyol are back in this match! A shot was deflected off Vazquez and into the path of Baptistao, who took a good first touch and then unleashed a powerful strike high into the roof of the net.
45+1’ GOAL! Espanyol 1-3 Real Madrid: It's three and what a wonderful finish that was from Benzema! He played a one-two with Vinicius and then guided a low, right-footed finish into the far corner of the net. Exceptional finish from the Real Madrid striker.
67’ GOAL! Espanyol 1-4 Real Madrid: He's barely been on the pitch for two minutes and Bale has a goal! It was a great turn from Bale inside the box after good build up play from Vazquez and Benzema. He created the space in a crowded penalty area and lashed home the finish.
73’ SENT OFF! Real Madrid have been reduced to 10 men. The pass was played through by Garcia for Piatti and Varane came across to take him out right on the edge of the box. Red card.
83’ GOAL! Espanyol 2-4 Real Madrid: Espanyol have given themselves a late lifeline! What a finish that was from Rosales. He took the pass on his chest and then rifled it high into the net. It was ruled offside at first, but that decision was overturned using VAR!
- Karim Benzema scored the fastest goal Real Madrid have scored all season after just 187 seconds.
- 50 of Sergio Ramos 83 goals for Real Madrid (in all competitions) have been headers.
- Before tonight’s game, Ramos had played every minute of every La Liga game Real Madrid have been involved in this season.
- Real Madrid scored three goals in the first half of a Liga game for the first time this season.