Karim Benzema rescues Real Madrid at Espanyol as Aurelien Tchouameni lessens lack of Casemiro

Two objectives from Karim Benzema within the 88th and a hundredth minutes noticed Real Madrid eke out a late 3-1 win at Espanyol on Sunday evening. Vinicius Junior scored the guests’ opener, earlier than Joselu levelled the scoring.

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The victory places Madrid on high of the LaLiga desk, with everlasting rivals Barcelona trailing by two factors in third place.

JUMP TO: Participant rankings | Finest/worst performers | Highlights and notable moments | Publish-match quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures

Speedy Response

1. Tchouameni dwelling

This was one other sport — the second in a row — wherein Aurelien Tchouameni has regarded a worthy successor to Casemiro in Real Madrid’s midfield. The truth is, his help for the opener — a intelligent through-ball which set Vinicius away to fit previous goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte — was an indication that Tchouameni is definitely an improve in terms of attacking contributions.

They occupy the identical place within the crew — this was the primary time Tchouameni had began alongside each Toni Kroos and Luka Modric — however the teen is keener and faster to get ahead. Supervisor Carlo Ancelotti has already recognised as a lot.

“He gets into the box,” the Madrid supervisor mentioned final week. “I won’t tell him to play like Casemiro.”

Tchouameni’s move completion was additionally distinctive right here, ending at 94%.

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Like the remainder of the crew, he discovered the second half harder as Espanyol elevated the tempo, however the early indicators are good. Casemiro hasn’t been missed but.

2. Defensive swap causes uncertainty

Ancelotti had been clear that final yr’s double-winning central defensive pair, David Alaba and Eder Militao, would stay first selection as this marketing campaign obtained underway. That left high-profile summer time signing Antonio Rudiger having to make achieve this far with some sudden cameos at full-back, and a begin alongside Nacho in a rotated crew on opening day.

Each Ancelotti and Alaba had mentioned the Austria worldwide would proceed for use within the center until in distinctive circumstances, so it was shock right here to see Rudiger alongside Militao, and Alaba moved out to left-back.

The decision regarded suspect when Rudiger and Militao have been badly caught out for Joselu’s equaliser. An absence of shared game-time was evident as Rudiger stepped up as Militao performed Joselu onside, and each didn’t react when Joselu’s preliminary effort got here again to him.

Having three centre-backs of such high quality is a luxurious, however that is one space of the pitch the place consistency of choice is important to permit a dependable, error-free partnership to flourish.

Ancelotti has some troublesome selections to make.

3. Rodrygo’s influence off the bench showcases depth

When Madrid have been struggling right here at 1-1 within the second half, Ancelotti turned to his Champions League comeback components from final season: calling on Eduardo Camavinga and Rodrygo so as to add vitality and high quality off the bench.

Few groups benefit from the luxurious of having the ability to area substitutes of this calibre. Camavinga’s all-action fashion is greatest suited to being deployed in this sort of context, whereas Rodrygo’s capacity to make decisive interventions from restricted sport time — as he did to nice impact in Europe final season — is massively spectacular.

His 88th-minute cross for Benzema’s winner was a second of high quality and precision in an in any other case frenetic second interval, and he had a purpose dominated out for offside in added time, too. Ancelotti mentioned on Saturday that Rodrygo can have a “more important role” this yr and have extra typically from the beginning.

For now, he is the best super-sub when Madrid are chasing a winner.

Participant rankings

Real Madrid: Thibaut Courtois 7; Lucas Vazquez 6, Eder Militao 6, Antonio Rudiger 6, David Alaba 6; Aurelien Tchouameni 8, Toni Kroos 7, Luka Modric 6; Federico Valverde 5, Vinicius Junior 8, Karim Benzema 8.

Subs: Eduardo Camavinga 7, Rodrygo 8, Dani Ceballos 7, Dani Carvajal 6.

Espanyol: Benjamin Lecomte 5; Oscar Gil 6, Fernando Calero 7, Leandro Cabrera 7, Brian Olivan 6; Vinicius Souza 7, Ruben Sanchez 7, Edu Exposito 7, Sergi Darder 6, Javier Puado 6; Joselu 8.

Subs: Keidi Naked 6, Nicolas Melamed 6, Dani Gomez 6.

Finest and worst performers

BEST: Karim Benzema, Real Madrid

Began quietly however grew into the sport, scoring two massive objectives within the second half to provide Madrid the win at a floor the place they misplaced final season.

WORST: Benjamin Lecomte, Espanyol

Embarrassed by his late purple card that left poor defender Leandro Cabrera having to don goalkeepers’ gloves — with Espanyol having used all their substitutes — to concede Benzema’s spot kick.

Highlights and notable moments

Simply look what that equaliser meant to Joselu.

You have obtained your conventional working and shouting, with some heavy arm pumping. He follows that up with a double knee slide, which he pops up from instantly and transitions seamlessly into single punch of the air. Then it is into the chilly stare into the group, permitting the embrace of his teammates wash over him. After panning the benches and the group, our view returns to Joselu, who blows a kiss to the digital camera earlier than one ultimate fist pump and emphatic roar. He closes the celebration with a heartfelt kiss blown to the supporters.

After all, none of it mattered, due to this man.

After the match: What the managers, gamers mentioned

“It’s normal that you suffer, especially away from home,” Kroos mentioned. “We controlled the game well until they scored. After that it’s normal that you suffer. Towards the end you could see that they got tired. It isn’t easy to win away from home and we’ve done it three times [so far this season] so we’re happy.”

“We started really well, we were dominating the game, they were only dangerous at set pieces,” Courtois mentioned. “Then out of nothing a midfield run, I made the save, then another midfield run, I saved but Joselu scored. The second half was more equal, they had some chances but in the end there was some magic from Rodrygo and Karim … They had some dangerous opportunities in the second half, at one point I feared that we might draw, but you have to keep believing.”

Key stats (offered by ESPN Stats & Info)

Real Madrid prolonged their unbeaten streak when scoring first in LaLiga, as much as 35 matches, probably the most within the league.

Joselu’s purpose was his seventh in 9 profession LaLiga matches towards Real Madrid. Extremely, Los Blancos are the crew he is scored most towards in league play.

Up subsequent

Real Madrid: Los Blancos host Real Betis Saturday, Sept. 3 at 10:15 a.m. ET (stream stay on ESPN+), after which host Mallorca at 3 p.m. ET on Sept. 10.

Espanyol: Los Periquitos head to Bilbao on Sunday, Sept. 4 at 10:15 a.m. ET (stream stay on ESPN+) after which they host Sevilla at 10:15 a.m. ET on Sept. 10.