Real Madrid back into third after 4-2 Espanyol win

Real Madrid returned to third place in La Liga thanks to goals from Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale in their 4-2 win at Espanyol on Sunday night.

Santiago Solari's side flew out of the blocks in El Prat, with Frenchman Benzema scoring after just four minutes – Real's quickest goal this season – tapping home after Diego Lopez parried Luka Modric's shot.

Ramos scored his tenth goal of the season, on 16 minutes, rising highest to nod home Modric's inswinging cross, to put the visitors 2-0 in front.

Espanyol found a lifeline, against the run of play, as Leo Baptistao scored his first goal since September 2nd, firing in from close range after Didac Vila's shot was deflected into his path.

However Real had too much for the Catalan side after the break, with Benzema netting his 9th La Liga goal of the campaign, curling home from 15 yards from Vinicius Junior's clever cut back.

Bale came off the bench for only his second appearance in 2019, and he scored with three minutes of coming on. The Welsh international collected Lucas Vazquez's pass with his back to goal, and blasted home on the turn.

The game took another turn 72 minutes, when Raphael Varane was shown a straight red card for pulling down Pablo Piatti and Espanyol grabbed a late second with nine minutes left, as substitute Roberto Rosales slotted home a neat finish after getting in behind the Real defence.

Three points and a return to third place did come at a price for Real Madrid, as despite their excellent play in attack, they have issues in defence.

Ramos was withdrawn at half time with a knee injury, Varane looks set for a three match ban and Dani Carvajal collected his fifth La Liga booking of the season, ruling him out of their next league game.