James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema Lead Real Madrid To 2-0 Win Over Espanyol - uSports.org

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 18: James Rodriguez of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the La Liga match between RCD Espanyol and Real Madrid CF at the RCDE stadium on September 18, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema Lead Real Madrid To 2-0 Win Over Espanyol

James Rodriguez scored a goal late in the first half, and Karim Benzema added another midway through the second half to lead Real Madrid to a 2-0 road victory over Espanyol on Sunday.

James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema Lead Real Madrid To 2-0 Win Over Espanyol

Rodriguez, a 25-year-old Colombian midfielder, put Real ahead two minutes into first-half stoppage time with an impressive solo effort. He was linked with a move away from Real Madrid in the summer.

After taking a pass from Toni Kroos about 30 yards from goal at the edge of the box — which came after Rodriguez had slipped the ball through the legs of Pape Diop  the Colombian shot a left-footer low into the corner past goalkeeper Diego Lopez. 

The goal was one of Rodriguez’s best since he scored on a spectacular volley shot with Colombia against Uruguay at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Rodriguez received a congratulatory handshake from his manager, Zinedine Zidane, when he came off the field for midfielder Isco midway through the second half.

Zidane, a former Real Madrid star, has now become only the second manager in Spain to compile 16 consecutive wins. Barcelona did it during the 2010-2011 season under Pep Guardiola, who is now the head of Manchester City.

Madrid was missing two major players on Sunday: Wales forward Gareth Bale picked up a hip problem in the 2-1 Champions League win at Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday, while Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo was ruled out with flu.

Despite their share of unimpressive moments in the first half, Real began strong, and defenseman Sergio Ramos was all over the place while guarding Leo Baptistao. He could have been ejected with a red card, but escaped with only a yellow. Ramos then hand-balled later in the half and again received the benefit of the doubt from the referee.

Baptistao had Espanyol’s best early opportunity when Hernan Perez’s strong header in-field played him in, although his shot was deftly blocked by goalie Kiko Casilla. Casilla was playing agains his former team, and remained busy early on.

Espanyol had lost Argentine winger Pablo Piatti to injury after just ten minutes, but it had not knocked them off their stride and soon, Real’s Casemiro limped off as injuries on both sides evened. Casemiro had clashed with Diop and was unable to brush off the injury.

Kroos replaced Casemiro and the tone immediately lifted.

Benzema scored 40 minutes into the game, but his header from a Marcelo cross was ruled out correctly for offside. The French striker was then taken down by Oscar Duarte, who picked up the game’s third yellow card.

Benzema then doubled Real’s lead in the 71st minute, meeting Lucas Vazquez’s low cross for a simple tap-in from close range.

Isco’s trickery on the touchline stunned Espanyol, and when he fed Dani Carvajal, the full-back played in Vazquez. The winger crossed to Benzema, who buried it.

Real, undefeated thus far this season, are now at the top of Spain’s La Liga standings with 12 points, while Barcelona and Las Palmas follow at second and third respectively, with nine points apiece.

Former Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores has just two points from his opening four games since taking over at Espanyol in the summer.

Espanyol had a penalty shout in the second half when Pepe challenged Baptistao, but the referee waved away the appeal.

When Marco Asensio headed Lucas Vazquez’s pass back to Benzema he was denied by Lopez’ superb point-blank save. He denied his former team-mate again with 20 minutes left.

Real’s last 11 goals have come from 11 different players, and it’s been 16 games in the league since they have lost.

Madrid will next host Villareal on Wednesday, while Espanyol will visit Osasuna on Thursday for their next La Liga match.

BARCELONA, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 18: James Rodriguez of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the La Liga match between RCD Espanyol and Real Madrid CF at the RCDE stadium on September 18, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

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Written by Pablo Mena

Writer and assistant editor for usports.org. NY Giants and Rangers fan. Film and TV enthusiast (especially Harry Potter and The Office) and lover of foreign languages and cultures.

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