Real Madrid took control of the Spanish title race by a lone goal win against Espanyol at the RCDE stadium (Barcelona) . Casemiro netted the only goal to open up a two points lead at the top of LaLiga.

Benzema’s intelligence caught the Espanyol defence on the stroke of half-time with a sublime back-heel that laid the opener for Casemiro.

It was a big blow for Espanyol, they had an encouraging first-half display which saw forward Wu Lei spurn a host of chances to give Espanyol hopes of avoiding relegation.

Espanyol Sporting director Francisco Rufete took over as manager on Saturday after replacing Abelardo Fernandez – the third Espanyol boss to be sacked this season.

Chances created in the second period was premium but Real maintained a measure of control, securing their fifth-consecutive victory since the restart.

In the end, Real Madrid got the job done, claiming the three points required to move top of laliga , but this was far from an excellent performance from Los Blancos. In fact, it was a weary performance. It was somewhat of a surprise Zidane decided to use just two of his five possible substitutions considering it seemed many of his team were suffering from fatigue for periods of the second half. Could this be a factor over the final few weeks of the season? Time will tell.

Real Madrid are now five wins and a draw from a second La Liga title since 2012.
City rivals Atletico Madrid can do them a huge favour when they visit Barca on Thursday.

PLAYER RATINGS

Espanyol – Lopez 6, Gomez 5, Bernardo 6, Cabrera 5, Didac 5, Embarba 5, Lopez 7, Roca 6, Darder 5, Wu Lei 7, De Tomas 6. Subs – Calleri 5, Lozano 4, Pedrosa 4, Ribaudo 5, Melendo 5.

Real Madrid – Courtois 6, Carvajal 5, Varane 6, Ramos 6, Marcelo 6, Casemiro 8, Valverde 5, Kroos 6, Isco 7, Hazard 5, Benzema 8. Subs – Vinicius 6, Rodrygo 5.