|First Division - Day 22|
Real Madrid 4 - Espanyol 0
Michel Salgado, Samuel, Iván Helguera, Roberto Carlos; Beckham (Solari
68'), Guti; Figo, Raúl (Owen 77'), Zidane (Gravesen 57'); Ronaldo.
Team changes: Madrid: Guti, Ronaldo for Gravesen, Owen / Espanyol: Jarque, Domi for David García, Tamudo.
Playing twenty-four hours before leaders Barcelona, it was Real Madrid's turn to put the pressure on their rivals for the title this week, and they did so with a convincing 4-0 win over fourth placed Espanyol. Luxemburgo stuck to the diamond formation he put out last week, with Guti surprisingly displacing Gravesen and Zidane recovering from a stomach upset to play. Samuel also made it into the starting line up, a protective mask on his broken nose.
Espanyol were missing Pochettino, David García and their captain Tamudo, but De la Peña was on a high after getting his first call up for Spain, and he set up Maxi for him to test Casillas early on. Ronaldo should have scored at the other end a minute later when he rounded Kameni only to shoot into the side netting, but in their next attack Madrid went ahead, Zidane picking up a long ball from Beckham and rounding Ibarra before cracking a shot into the top corner of the net.
Espanyol were not prepared to lie down though, De la Peña putting Ito through for him to force an excellent double save out of Casillas. But a couple of minutes later Figo made himself space to fire a shot at goal, and although Kameni touched it on to the post, Raúl was there to poke home the rebound.
De la Peña forced another good save out of Casillas from a free kick just before the break, and ten minutes into the second half Luxemburgo brought on Gravesen to keep tabs on "the little Buddha". Dani got the ball into the net soon afterwards but his header was ruled out for offside, and Kameni had to be at his best to keep out Figo, Raúl and Roberto Carlos at the other end.
Madrid went three up though with a quarter of an hour left on the clock, Raúl getting on the end of Solari's cross to turn the ball wide of the keeper, referee Rodríguez Santiago turning down appeals for offside. And with six minutes to go Gravesen wrapped things up, latching on to a loose ball after Guti was tackled to beat Kameni and score his first goal for his new club. It was a record sixth win in a row for the new coach since he took over from García Remón, and his side move to within four points of Barça pending their match tomorrow.