First Division - Day 27

Real Madrid 2 - Espanyol 1

Madrid: Casillas; Miguel Torres, Pepe, Heinze, Marcelo; Diarra; Higuaín, Baptista, Guti, Robinho; Raúl. 4-1-4-1.
Espanyol: Kameni; Zabaleta, Jarque, Torrejón, David García; Valdo (Coro 67'), Moisés Hurtado, Lola, Riera (Ewerthon 83'); Luis García, Jonathan Soriano (Tamudo 65'). 4-4-2.

Team changes: Madrid: Pepe, Marcelo, Guti, Higuaín, Robinho for Sergio Ramos, Cannavaro, Gago, Robben, Drenthe / Espanyol: Lola for De la Peña.

0-1. 29. Valdo. Headed past Casillas on far post from long Luis García cross.
1-1. 43. Higuaín. Got on the end of Marcelo's centre to turn ball in from close up.
2-1. 72. Raúl (penalty). After Raúl himself pulled down by Jarque inside area.

Real Madrid opened the gap at the top to eight points pending Barcelona's game on Sunday after beating fifth placed Espanyol 2-1. It was a welcome respite after their elimination from the Champions League midweek, and puts the pressure back on Frank Rijkaard's side for their match against Villarreal. Espanyol though see their mini-revival cut short, and they have now lost six of their eight games since the turn of the season.

Madrid had to come from behind to secure the win though, Valdo running in unmarked to head the Catalans into the lead on the half hour mark from Luis García's cross. Before that Casillas had to save from Jonathan Soriano and Valdo had headed wide, Baptista heading a Guti free kick wide at the other end with Heinze better placed. Baptista caused some problems for Kameni with a couple of dangerous free kicks, and with the first half coming to a close Higuaín got on the end of Marcelo's cross to force the equaliser past Kameni.

Both sides had chances after the restart, Lola shooting just past the upright and Guti bringing a good save out of Kameni with a long shot. With twenty minutes to go though Madrid were awarded a penalty after Jarque pulled down Raúl inside the area, and the team captain stepped up to score what was his 200th league goal for the club. Marcelo, Guti and Soldado all had chances after that, but they had already done enough for the victory. After the final whistle Tamudo and Kameni were both shown red cards by the referee for protesting.