Riding on goals from Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema, Real Madrid had provisionally retained the first place in 2019-20 La Liga with a dominating 2-0 win over Espanyol but Barcelona’s 5-2 victory over RCD Mallorca removed Los Blancos from the coveted position.
Head coach Zinedine Zidane made some changes to Real Madrid’s normal starting line-up, with Luka Modric and Isco left on the bench at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Saturday night, whereas Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard and Marcelo also missed due to injury.
The hosts took their time to make the breakthrough, with the opening goal only coming in the 37th minute. Varane was the man to draw the first blood. The Frenchman was assisted by his compatriot, Karim Benzema, before producing a slide-rule left-foot finish to beat visitors’ goalie Diego Lopez. The goal was the defender’s first goal of the season.
Forward Benzema doubled the lead in the 79th minute after receiving a cross from Federico Valverde and striking it between defender’s legs and into the back of the net.
The goal put the final nail in Espanyol’s coffin. However, Blancos’ Ferland Mendy was sent off for a second yellow card four minutes later, but it was far too late for the guests to capitalize and come back in the match which was already out of their clutches.
With the win, Real Madrid had provisionally jumped to the first spot in La Liga ahead of arch-rival FC Barcelona, but the Catalans’ win over Mallorca took Ernesto Valverde’s men again to the top spot.