Madrid had smashed five past Real Betis at the weekend, a result that saw Juan Carlos Garrido lose his job, but they were made to work much harder by an improving Espanyol side
Carlo Ancelotti’s side also ran out one nil victors at the Cornella-El Prat in La Liga just nine days ago, but the fact of the matter is that Madrid have now won six games in a row and could yet win the domestic double this season.
Cristiano Ronaldo went closest for Madrid in the earlier stages, a bullet header rebounding off of Kiko’s post. On 25 minutes the breakthrough came – Karim Benzema heading in after an assist by Gareth Bale. Bale is rediscovering his best form, an ominous threat for Barcelona and Atletico fans.
Espanyol had their chances in a tight match, Sergio Garcia being particular wasteful when put through with only Casillas to beat. Madrid had further chances to extend their lead but the one goal victory is a fair reflection of the game as a whole.
Madrid must be huge favourites to clinch the tie in the second leg at the Bernabeu next week. When that happens they will face the winner of the tie between Atletico and Athletic Bilboa. The first leg of that encounter is on Thursday, and if Athletic progress as expected then we should be in for fireworks in the Copa semi-final!