Real Madrid defeated Catalan outfit Espanyol by a goal to nil thanks to a late first-half strike from Marco Asensio. Real Madrid started the game with a line-up which had many changes including the presence of Marcelo and Gareth Bale on the bench. Toni Kroos and Carvajal were both left out as well.
Real Madrid Starting Xl - Courtois, Odriozola, Varane, Ramos, Nacho, Casemiro, Modric, Ceballos, Isco, Benzema, Asensio.
Espanyol Starting Xl - Diego Lopez, Piatti, Vila Rosello, Naldo, Hermoso, Javi Lopez, Darder, Roca, Perez, Granero, Borja.
Carvajal's absence gave Odriozola his official debut for the club after he joined the Blancos from Real Sociedad in the summer. Nacho too replaced Marcelo and started at left-back. The game started with a string of counter attacks from the home side but they couldn't get the finishing touch.
Espanyol also had a very good chance earlier in the game which Piatti squandered after Hernan Perez placed a very inviting ball in his path.
Perez had a great chance himself to put the visitor ahead but his shot went straight into Courtois's hands. Real got their reward in the 41st minute of the game when Modric's pass to Benzema was intercepted by Naldo but the ball luckily fell to Marco Asensio who made no mistake in slotting it past a helpless Diego Lopez.
Referee consulted VAR to check for possible offside but in the end, the goal was given.
Real Madrid started the second half with a couple of decent chances. Dani Ceballos, especially, started the half very brightly - he combined with Asensio to drill a ball into the box which fell nicely for Modric whose left footed shot tested Diego Lopez from close range but the keeper was alert to it. Isco then curled a ball just wide of the post after he did well to create room for himself to take the shot..
Odriozola was very lively in the wings and his low cross almost fell to Benzema.
Borja Iglesias probably had the best chance for Espanyol after he intercepted Ramos's misplaced pass and chipped the ball over Courtois only to be denied by the crossbar. This was Espanyol's third and final big chance of the game.
Sergio Ramos came close to doubling the host's advantage as he found Isco on the left-hand side and rushed in the box to head the return ball towards the goal which was saved by his former teammate Diego Lopez.
Espanyol saw a lot of ball in the final 15 minutes but couldn't cause any damage to Real Madrid's defense as the host maintained their defensive shape.
Real Madrid, however, were very lucky to get the three points. Bale and Marcelo were badly missed alongside Toni Kroos whose quality passing and vision make the team's movements much more fluid.
With this win, Los Merengues went top of the table temporarily with Barca yet to play. Barcelona will host Girona in Camp Nou on Sunday to regain the two-point cushion over their arch-rivals.