First Division - Day 6

Real Madrid 2 - Espanyol 1

Real Madrid: Casillas; Michel Salgado, Iván Helguera, Pavón, Roberto Carlos; Beckham (Cambiasso 88'), Guti; Figo (Solari 88'), Raúl, Zidane; Ronaldo (Portillo 88'). 4-2-3-1.
Espanyol: Lemmens; Tayfun (Velamazán 64'), Jarque, Domoraud, Carlos García, David García; Maxi, Bastia (Oscar 80'), Morales (Alex Fernández 70'), Wome; Raúl Molina. 5-4-1.

Team changes: Madrid: Iván Helguera, Raúl for Raúl Bravo, Cambiasso / Espanyol: Carlos García, David García, Morales, Raúl Molina for Marc Bertrán, Torricelli, Bobson, Tamudo.

1-0. 52. Ronaldo. Fired ball in on far post after Raúl turned and crossed from right.
2-0. 82. Ronaldo. Steered header past Lemmens from Beckham's chipped pass.
2-1. 93. Alex Fernández. Low shot from front of area which went in off far post.

Real Madrid stay in third place, three points behind the leaders and two behind Deportivo, after a 2-1 win over bottom club Espanyol. It was not an easy victory though, and only a couple of controversial decisions by referee Pérez Lasa guaranteed the three points. Clemente put out a defensive line up, with Spanish under 19 international Carlos García making his debut at the back due to injuries to Lopo and Soldevilla. And during the first half the no-nonsense tactics worked, with Ronaldo and Raúl blotted out and Maxi and Raúl Molina even daring to challenge Casillas at the other end on the breakaway.

But early in the second half Raúl finally found space to turn the ball across goal, and there was Ronaldo to poke it home. A few minutes later Raúl got the ball in the net himself after winning it off Lemmens as his concentration lapsed, but Pérez Lasa ruled the play invalid. Soon afterwards the referee awarded a dubious penalty when Roberto Carlos fell under a challenge from Jarque, but Lemmens guessed right and saved Figo's spot kick. And much to Clemente's disgust, a similar incident at the other end when Bastia fell at the feet of Pavón went unpunished.

Madrid put the result out of Espanyol's reach though eight minutes from the end when Ronaldo got on the end of Beckham's weighted cross to head the ball wide of the Belgian keeper, Pérez Lasa waving away the visitors' claims for offside. Then with a couple of minutes to go the Catalans were down to ten men when a battling Wome was shown a second yellow card. Even so they managed to get a last minute consolation when Alex Fernández ran through and beat Casillas with a low shot. It was not enough to take them off the bottom of the table or even save a point, but they can at least take hope from a spirited performance.