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Pepe winner takes Madrid closer

AFP
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1-0 win over Espanyol moves them within three points of the La Liga leaders

Powerful headerEspanyol made the mistake of leaving Real Madrid’s Portuguese defender Pepe (no. 3) unmarked and he duly punished them by rising high to head home the only goal of the game.photo: AFP
Powerful headerEspanyol made the mistake of leaving Real Madrid’s Portuguese defender Pepe (no. 3) unmarked and he duly punished them by rising high to head home the only goal of the game.photo: AFP

Real Madrid moved to within three points of La Liga leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Espanyol on Sunday.

Portuguese defender Pepe got the only goal of the game when he rose highest to head home Luka Modric’s free-kick 10 minutes after half-time.

Cristiano Ronaldo should then have added to his side’s lead on a number of occasions.

But despite their star man having an off night in front of goal, Madrid comfortably held on for the three points as Espanyol created nothing of note after falling behind.

“I am satisfied with how we played because we had a good balance, we played good football and kept trying to score until the last minute,” said Real boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Espanyol had started on the front foot and should have been in front after just three minutes when Cristian Stuani skewed his header wide when unmarked just six yards out.

Thereafter, though, Madrid had the better of the chances in the first-half without ever completely dominating the game.

However, the visitors best chances of the first 45 minutes came just before the break when Modric led a counter-attack, but after feeding Di Maria the Argentine failed to pick out one of four available teammates. The ball eventually fell to Gareth Bale and his cross was headed just wide by Benzema.

Madrid did make the breakthrough 10 minutes into the second-half as Modric’s free-kick towards the back post was powerfully headed low into the far corner by the unmarked Pepe.

Bale was starting a league game for the first time in nearly a month and he looked short of match sharpness as he contributed little before being replaced by Jese Rodriguez 15 minutes from time.AFP


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