Real Madrid back to winning ways against Espanyol

Reuters , Saturday 10 Jan 2015

Real Madrid
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, center, celebrates his goal with teammates during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 (Photo: AP)

La Liga leaders Real Madrid returned to winning ways after consecutive defeats when they shrugged off playing most of the second half with 10 men to secure a 3-0 win at home to mid-table Espanyol on Saturday.

Beaten 2-1 at Valencia in La Liga last weekend and 2-0 at Atletico Madrid in a King's Cup last 16, first leg in midweek, Real took the lead at their Bernabeu arena when Cristiano Ronaldo set James Rodriguez up to score in the 12th minute.

Gareth Bale arrowed a free kick over the wall and into the net off a post to make it 2-0 in the 28th minute before fullback Fabio Coentrao was shown a straight red card for a dangerous tackle eight minutes into the second half.

Despite that setback, Real remained in control and substitute Nacho clipped home a third goal for the world and European champions, the defender's first for the club, 14 minutes from time.

The victory stretched Real's lead over second-placed Barcelona at the top to four points. Barca play at home to champions Atletico, who are third and level on 38 points with their hosts, on Sunday.

Real, whose Spanish record winning streak of 22 matches was ended by Valencia, have a game in hand over Barca and Atletico, with all three teams now having played 17 matches.

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