23rd September, 2018.
For all Real Madrid fans who had expected a “walk-over” sort of game against Espanyol F.C., they surely had a rough time watching the match as the home team had to really dig deep before overcoming the stubborn visitors 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu in a La Liga fixture.
As a matter of fact, even the goal scored was hotly disputed before it stood. That naturally brought into play once again, the issue of the need to introduce the VAR all across European Football. The goal was however a very correct goal in itself.
It will be recalled that Real Madrid had dropped their first points under the new manager in their last game at Athletic Bilbao and so at a stage this game seemed to be going the same way until that vital goal was scored.
The manager had decided to rest Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Toni Kroos for the game and that was going to prove to be an error but for Ascensio’s goal that saved the face for everyone at Real.
Lopetegui even then went on to rest Karim Benzema for the final 30 minutes of this game also showing some level of fearlessness. How that would have been looked at in the event of the hosts drawing the game is of course another ball game altogether.
Especially, when Espanyol almost levelled through a cute Borja Iglesias chip which rebounded off the crossbar. Before him, Pablo Piatti had slotted a presentable chance wide in the 14th minute as Espanyol made a strong start to the game.
The game was however decided when Modric threaded a pass through to Asensio, who drilled a neat finish into the bottom-right in the 41st minute. A lengthy VAR review for offside was what followed but the goal was eventually given.
In the second half, Espanyol almost snatched an equaliser in the 65th minute as Iglesias capitalised on a rare Sergio Ramos error but saw his floated effort over Courtois come back off the woodwork.
On the whole, Real Madrid secured three vital points at home on the night as they now shift their whole attention to a more difficult assignment in a midweek round of LaLiga fixtures in which they face a tricky trip to Sevilla on Wednesday.