Espanyol’s faith left them on the verge of adding a golden point against the reigning European champions. Real Madrid suffered more than expected in Cornellà-El Prat, where they ended up signing their third win of the season (1-3) in a duel that was not decided until two minutes from the end. Benzema’s strike, which did not find the home team, penalized a resilient Espanyol who lacked quality at the top to topple the white giants.
After last year’s accident, Real Madrid hoped to be able to meet again with a friendly field in Cornellà-El Prat. The appearance of the stands foreshadowed this, with a large representation of Madrid fans who heard Vinícius Jr’s early goal. The Brazilian became a real headache for the Spanish defense, especially for an Óscar Gil whom he danced as he wanted. Diego Martínez tried to neutralize the Brazilian by adding the help of Rubén Sánchez, but this was insufficient. With the moment of inspiration that Vinícius has been living for a long time, it turns out to be an unbalancing factor that is very difficult to stop.
Ancelotti’s came away with a well-learned lesson from their last visit to the Spanish fiefdom and wanted to set a very high pace from a good start. Tchouaméni showed that he is a physical portent who has not only inherited the same refereeing permissiveness that Casemiro had for many years, but is also a midfielder with great class capable of signing assists at the first touch like the one he distributed to Vinícius Jr . All in all, the best news for Espanyol was that, right after the 0-1, Vinícius wasted the two clear chances he had. Immediately, Madrid switched on the automatic pilot. With the white-and-blues surrounded in their third of the field, unable to make three passes in a row beyond the dividing line, it seemed a matter of time before the visitors’ second goal arrived. Darder canceled, it was good for Espanyol that Madrid didn’t manage to activate Benzema either.
But it was then that Cornellà-El Prat took away its pride. Two warnings from Vinicius Souza and Cabrera preceded Joselu’s equalizer just before the break. The striker, who had spent the entire first half unsuccessfully fighting split balls in the middle of the field, showed that the great success of a center forward lies in always having the cane ready when he steps into the area. After an early effort was thwarted by a centre-back, Joselu collected a promising rebound and finished past Courtois to score his first goal as a Spaniard at the RCDE Stadium. Joselu, who had already scored on the first matchday against another of his previous teams, Celta, had no problems singling out the equalizer against a team that, just a few months ago, he was in Paris cheering for the Whites during the final of the Champions League.
Camavinga boosts Ancelotti’s
The tie woke up the Cornellà-El Prat stand, which pulled out its claws after the break. Awaiting some signings that continue to be made to wait, Espanyol tried to pull faith in a second half that Madrid wanted to shake by bringing to light a back of the wardrobe that makes a mess. If in the first half the unbalancing factor had been Vinícius Jr’s samba, in the second it was Camavinga’s entry that marked the differences.
The Frenchman gave a boost to the midfield of the visitors, who came very close to finding the second in two consecutive actions. A compatriot of his, Lecomte, tried to dispel the doubts shown so far with a couple of good saves, but the night ended in the worst way for the Frenchman, who was sent off for a tackle on Ceballos in added time.
Those of Diego Martínez put their heart into a final stretch where the legs weighed on both teams. Chen Yansheng, who returned to preside over the stadium box office two and a half years later, was able to verify on site how the lack of differential players in attack is a mortal sin in Primera. And it is that, despite finishing the game closer to Courtois’ area than to his own, it was Benzema who punished a Spaniard with two whips who ended the game with Cabrera under the posts.