It was a third consecutive impressive showing from Solari’s men, this time away from home at the Cornella-El Prat. Goals from Benzema (2), Ramos, and Bale were the difference. The Frenchman, Benzema, was world class, everything he touched turned to gold. Full ratings below:
Thibaut Courtois—6: Had no fault in either goal. Was more aggressive off his line to cut out dangerous plays. Still could be better in possession rather than just lumping the ball.
Dani Carvajal—6: A good performance from Dani but really should have had both a goal and an assist. Each time he was put through by Benzema and should have done better with his end production. Defensively was solid and had a great goal-line save after Rafa Varane’s sending off.
Sergio Ramos—8: Started the match off with a gorgeous direct diagonal long ball to Carvajal. Scored yet again for Madrid, his 5th league goal, off a Modric assist from a short corner. His header was guided into the back of the net—more technique than power. Came off at halftime after a brutal tackle from Borja Iglesias impacted Ramos’ knee.
Raphael Varane—5: Sent off in the 71st minute for clipping Piatti on a breakaway. Otherwise, had a quiet game.
Sergio Reguilon—7: Deserves every minute he has played this season. A motor up and down the left, who times his runs to perfection and remains tidy in possession. Shifted to center back after Varane’s sending off.
Casemiro—6.5: Another classic Casemiro game. Misplaced passes and carried the ball with too many touches leading to dispossessions,but countered that play with crucial interceptions and clean crunching tackles. A total of 3 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 1 clearance.
Toni Kroos—8: A pleasure to have the German back— he is so good under pressure. Despite have one or two markers on his back and hacking his heels, he still finds the right pass. Registered 3 key passes and a 96% pass accuracy from his 88 passes.
Luka Modric—8.5: The rumors are true, the real Luka Modric seems to be coming back. Brilliant individual run within 3 minutes of the match. His stabbed shot deflected straight to Benzema for the opening goal. Later in the first half, would whip in a cross for Sergio Ramos to head home and extend the lead to 2-0. Should have scored his 3rd consecutive league goal after a wonderful combo between Benzema and the Croatian at the top of the box, but Diego Lopez managed the kick save.
Lucas Vazquez—8.5: Great game from Lucas. His work ethic is second to none. He was particularly impressive on the ball tonight. Skipping past opponents and working his way out of extremely tight situations.
Karim Benzema—10: Simply sensational. Poachers goal within 3 minutes of the match starting after a solo run and stabbed shot from Modric which deflected right into the Frenchman’s path for a tap-in. It didn’t stop there for Big Benz, scored an absolute peach of a goal right at the end of the first half to extend Madrid back to a 2 goal lead. One time curled-in finish into the bottom right hand corner of the net. Overall was on another level today and had countless combinations with Modric and Vazquez. Was at the heart of Madrid’s fourth goal after dribbling through 3 defenders inside the box. A top, top performance from the in-form Frenchman—quite possibly one of his best ever in a Real Madrid shirt.
2 Goals, 4 shots ( 2 OT ), 5 Key Passes, 4/5 dribbles completed, 6/7 long balls, and 54 of his 58 passes were completed.
Vinicius JR—: Seventh consecutive start for the Brazilian and one of his quieter games judging by his already high standards he has set for himself. His raw abilities always make him a threat, but he wasn’t as involved in this match (only 39 touches).
Nacho—5.5: Entered at half-time for the battered and bruised Ramos. A bit over-aggressive to win the ball. Things were frantic and disorganized after Varane’s red card. Recorded 3 interceptions and 1 clearance.
Gareth Bale—6: Entered the match for Vinicius about an hour into the game and scored about five minutes later. Benzema was once again the architect dribbling past three defenders before Bale produced a maradona-like turn to smash home the ball with his left foot. Aside from the goal, didn’t bring much to the game.
Marcelo—4: Kept Rosales on side for Espanyol’s second goal. Contributed little else with his time on the pitch.