Result: Real Madrid 2 Espanyol 1
Real Madrid came from behind to beat Espanyol on Saturday evening with a win that gives Los Merengues a provisional 8 point advantage over Barcelona in the race for the La Liga title. Espanyol silenced the Bernabeu crowd when Valdo gave the visitors the lead with a goal from Valdo. However, the hosts bounced back with strikes from Gonzalo Higuain and Raul to ease the pressure on under fire Bernd Schuster...
Raul were uninspiring throughout the match and, in spite of the win, the rumours of dressing room unrest and doubts over Schuster’s future will undoubtedly persist.
A bad week for the Real Madrid coach looked like it was going to get a lot worse when Espanyol broke the deadlock on the half hour mark. A short corner set up Luis Garcia to send in a deep cross from the left that found the unmarked Valdo at the far post. The Espanyol player’s header left Casillas with no chance of saving it.
The home side, who had struggled to find any weaknesses in the visiting defence, were fortunate to equalise on 42 minutes when Higuain manged to get his knee on the end of a Marcelo cross and leave Kameni looking on helplessly as the ball found its way over the line.
Espanyol dominated after the break and looked the most likely to score. It was therefore against the run of play when Real stole the lead after winning a controversial penalty in the 71st minute when Raul was adjudged to have been brought down in the area by Daniel Jarque.
Espanyol did not deserve to find themselves behind, but they found little sympathy in Raul, who sent Kameni the wrong way with his coolly taken spot kick.
The visitor’s sense of injustice spilled over after the match when both Kameni and Tamudo angrily confronted the match referee as he went down the tunnel. Tamudo received a second yellow card for his protestations and will now miss Espanyol’s next match, while Kameni will surely be sanctioned for his comments about the referee’s performance.
After the match Bernd Schuster said “It was hard for us after a going a goal down. After Wednesday that was a real psychological test. We had to really dif in and the team showed great character.”
And rather than court further controversy this week, when asked about the penalty decision, the Real Madrid coach decided offered his best Arsene Wenger impression and said “They tell me it was a penalty…but I don’t know…I didn’t see it.”