NEWS
Saturday September 22 2018
VAR the difference for Real Madrid

Real Madrid had VAR to thank as the technology correctly awarded Marco Asensio's winner against Espanyol on Saturday.

See how the action unfolded at the Santiago Bernabeu with our liveblog!

A wrong offside call on Asensio's angled drive was revoked by the VAR to keep Madrid hot on the trail of Liga leaders Barcelona, although the bar prevented Espanyol from equalising.

Thibaut Courtois and Alvaro Odriozola featured for a heavily-rotated Madrid, with Los Blancos due to play five games over the next fortnight.

Espanyol, meanwhile, were fifth in La Liga after two wins from four, and Coach Rubi stuck to his word, naming an attack-minded XI, spearheaded by a three-pronged attack.

However, the Catalans hadn't won at the Bernabeu since 1996 and of their last 12 trips had lost 11, conceded 31 goals and scored just three.

Casemiro climbed highest when a corner went into Espanyol’s box early on, but the midfielder nodded the ball inches wide of David Lopez’s goal.

However, the visitors threatened on the break and could’ve taken the lead, had Pablo Piatti fired the right side of Thibaut Courtois’ far post and Hernan Perez not sting the Belgian’s palms.

Ultimately, it was left to VAR to confirm Asensio was level when a cross squirmed into his path, the winger then angling the ball into Lopez’s bottom-right corner.

Madrid seemed to drop the tempo in the second half, and the strategy almost backfired as Borja Iglesias’ lob over Courtois clipped the bar.

Lopez almost gifted Sergio Ramos a tap-in, completely missing a free kick, but the veteran made amends when he got a hand to the defender’s glancing header.

Real Madrid 1-0 Espanyol

Asensio 41

Real Madrid: Courtois; Odriozola, Varane, Ramos, Nacho; Modric, Casemiro, Ceballos (Lucas Vazquez 63); Isco (Marcos Llorente 79), Benzema (Mariano 60), Asensio

Espanyol: Diego Lopez; Javi Lopez, Hermoso, Naldo, Didac; Darder (Victor Sanchez 55), Roca, Granero; Hernan Perez (Borja Garcia 70), Iglesias, Piatti (Baptistao 55)

Referee: Mateu Lahoz

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