Real Madrid got back to winning ways in LaLiga and moved top of the table with a tight 1-0 home win against Espanyol secured thanks to Marco Asensio’s first-half goal.
Madrid dropped their first points under Julen Lopetegui last time out at Athletic Bilbao but despite resting Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Toni Kroos they collected a vital victory on Saturday.
Former Espanyol star Asensio struck from Luka Modric’s pass shortly before half-time, the goal surviving a review for offside, and Lopetegui opted to rest Karim Benzema for the final 30 minutes.
Mariano Diaz was sent on to make his second league debut for the club, the striker having rejoined from Lyon, but Espanyol almost levelled when a cute Borja Iglesias chip rebounded off the crossbar.
Pablo Piatti slotted a presentable chance wide in the 14th minute as Espanyol made a confident start, with a mishit Isco shot the only time Madrid threatened in the opening half an hour.
Hernan Perez wasted a great chance on the break, firing straight at Thibaut Courtois, who was recalled after Keylor Navas was preferred for Madrid’s Champions League defeat of Roma.
And although a lengthy VAR review for offside was needed, Madrid led in the 41st minute when Modric threaded a pass through to Asensio, who drilled a neat finish into the bottom-right.
Diego Lopez tipped a Modric shot around the post shortly after the restart as Madrid sought to make the points safe, then Isco had the former Los Blancos goalkeeper scrambling with a strike that curled wide.
But Espanyol almost snatched an equaliser in the 65th minute, Iglesias capitalising on a rare Sergio Ramos error but seeing his floated effort over Courtois come back off the woodwork.