First Division - Day 25

Espanyol 2 - Real Madrid 4

Espanyol: Lemmens; Carlos García (Tayfun 54'), Lopo, Pochettino, Vignal; Morales, Wome; Maxi (Jordi Cruyff 57'), De la Peña, Hadji (Raducanu 65'); Tamudo. 4-2-3-1.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Michel Salgado, Iván Helguera (Pavón 81'), Raúl Bravo, Roberto Carlos; Borja, Zidane; Juanfran (Figo 46'), Raúl, Solari (Cambiasso 46'); Ronaldo. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Espanyol: Carlos García, Vignal, Morales, Wome for Domoraud, David García, Fredson, Jordi Cruyff / Madrid: Borja, Zidane, Juanfran for Beckham, Guti, Figo.

0-1. 25. Ronaldo (penalty). after Raúl fell in area under Carlos García challenge.
1-1. 31. Tamudo (penalty). After Casillas ruled to have fouled De la Peña in area.
1-2. 52. Roberto Carlos. Hit shot on the run after Ronaldo laid back Zidane pass.
1-3. 66. Raúl Bravo. Got ahead of defence to head Figo corner past Lemmens.
1-4. 68. Ronaldo. Ran on to Cambiasso through ball and dummied past keeper.
2-4. 84. Lopo. Took overhead pass from Pochettino and fired shot into roof of net.

Real Madrid moved five points clear at the top of the table after a comfortable 2-4 win over struggling Espanyol. Once again there was controversy over the initial refereeing decisions, with Muñiz Fernández missing a hand ball by Salgado in the area and then awarding a dubious penalty to Raúl at the other end after he fell under a challenge from Carlos García. With Figo rested and Beckham and Guti suspended, Ronaldo stepped up to slot home the kick. Five minutes later though the referee did award a penalty to the home side which Tamudo converted, again a borderline decision after De la Peña fell over the body of Casillas.

Any doubts over the result though were dissipated when Madrid scored three times in a quarter of an hour period in the second half. Queiroz had started the game with Zidane in the central midfield role alongside Botja and Juanfran on the right wing, but at the break he replaced the under 21 international and the limping Solari with Figo and Cambiasso. That freed up Zidane for his more normal role, and seven minutes after the restart he found Ronaldo with a crossfield pass which the big striker played into the path of Roberto Carlos for him to score.

By now the Espanyol defence was in disarray, and Raúl Bravo found space to head a third goal past Lemmens from Figo's corner, the defender dedicating the goal to his pregnant girlfriend by hiding the ball under his shirt. Two minutes later Ronaldo made it four, feinting past the unfortunate keeper and running the ball into the net after Cambiasso put him through. Lopo got a late goal back after he got on the end of Pochettino's overhead pass, but by then it was far too late. Espanyol stay in next to bottom spot, and could be further away from safety after Sunday's games.