Real Madrid 3-1 Espanyol: Ronaldo absence takes gloss off victory

Cristiano Ronaldo's absence overshadowed

Real Madrid's 3-1 win over Espanyol after goals

from Gareth Bale and Alvaro Morata (2) secured victory in their final

La Liga game of the season.

Ronaldo, who limped off with a muscle injury in

the 1-1 draw at Real Valladolid earlier this

month, sustained a problem in the warm-up and

was replaced in the side by Isco.

And the nine-time European champions could

also be without Benzema for the clash in Lisbon

after he came off in the 67th minute with an

apparent groin complaint.

Real were always in control and ensured victory

with a late flurry from Benzema's replacement

Morata, but the focus will firmly be on the

prospects of their injured attacking pair prior to

the showdown with Atletico and next month's

World Cup.

The hosts took a while to find their rhythm

without Portuguese talisman Ronaldo, the first

real chance taking 13 minutes to arrive as

Benzema headed over Marcelo's left-wing cross.

Marcelo then forced Kiko Casilla into a near-post

stop with a shot from a tight angle before Sergio

Ramos drew another save from the Espanyol

goalkeeper from the resulting corner.

Ramos, scorer of five goals in his last six games,

continued to show signs of potentially adding to

his tally, firing narrowly wide from long range in

the 27th minute.

But the best chance of the first half fell to

Benzema, who cleverly worked his way past a

couple of defenders inside the area only to be

denied by a fine Casilla save.

Yet for all their dominance, Real may have fallen

behind had Daniel Carvajal not produced an

excellent last-ditch tackle to prevent Simao from

getting a shot away from point-blank range.

Real cut the look of a frustrated side for much

of the encounter as they laboured to try and find

a way through a stubborn Espanyol defence, with

Ramos once again going close as he curled over

in the 63rd minute.

However, Carlo Ancelotti's men finally found the

back of the net just a minute later when Bale

raced onto Benzema's clever reverse throughball

and slotted in off the post.

Espanyol missed a glorious chance to level

almost immediately, Simao somehow missing the

target when one-on-one with Iker Casillas.

Morata effectively made sure of the points with

a close-range finish in the 86th minute before

Pizzi converted Sergio Garcia's neat pass to halve

the deficit.

A second for Morata put the gloss on a

straightforward win, but that will have done

little to calm the tension surrounding the fitness

of Ronaldo and Benzema.


Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku

I am a Ghanaian Broadcast Journalist/Writer who has an interest in General News, Sports, Entertainment, Health, Lifestyle and many more.

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