La Liga 2017/18: Real Madrid 2-0 Espanyol; Player Ratings
Real Madrid finished off a clinical 2 goal victory over Espanyol, to cap off their first win at Bernabeu this season, with the unplayable Isco snatching the headlines.
In a role-reversal of sorts, the magnificent Isco opened the scoring at the half-hour mark after some clever play from Cristiano Ronaldo, tucking the ball away from Pau Lopez's outstretched legs. As the visitors continued to sit deep, Ronaldo was unable to capitalize on a host of chances, before the aforementioned Isco finished off a lethal counter-attack with a sublime finish. The visitors never found their element in the game, with Gerard Moreno and substitute Marc Navarro the closest attacking threats.
As we move into the international break, here are the player ratings:
Keylor Navas - 7.5/10
Even though he was largely untroubled, Navas responded well to deny Moreno in the first half. The Costa Rican followed it up; keeping his cool very well against a resurgent opposition, also channelling his inner sweeper-keeper for an essential clearance.
Achraf Hakimi - 7.5/10
The teenager was given an outing in place of Dani Carvajal and got into his manager's better books with a decent performance. Hakimi was enthusiastic in attacks, getting into clever spaces and laying off good balls for his wingers to run into. Even defensively, he was barely troubled, notably running the length of the pitch to win back the ball deep into his half. Though the obvious attacking flair of Carvajal was missing, a very promising full debut from the youngster.
Raphael Varane - 8/10
The Frenchman earned his check to keep a resurgent Blanquiazules side from getting into the game, the highlight coming from his block on Baptistao's cross into Moreno to tuck away. Though some of his passes were miscued, Varane carried his defence well, securing a clean sheet and 3 points in a resounding manner.
Sergio Ramos - 6/10
Ramos started the game with a sublime pass which almost led to a goal. However, since then, he had a game unlike what his reputation lives up to with a massive error in his own box which almost gifted the opposition with the equalizer. Though the home side got away by the skin of their teeth, their captain was way off his mark on the day, even as he managed to keep his ground to secure a clean-sheet victory.
Nacho Fernandez - 7/10
Nacho's link up with Isco was decent but his attacking prowess was low, with the absence of Marcelo very much highlighted. Defensively, he earned himself a yellow for a silly pullback on on Baptistao, even as he kept the wings free from any serious attacking threat. Though securing a victory with a 2 goal cushion was enough for Madrid's utility powerhouse.
Casemiro - 7.5/10
Casemiro was a little careless in possession early on, very surprisingly for him. After recovering and blunting out the Periquitos attacks with offhand ease, he got himself booked courtesy of an unneeded aggressive tackle. His strength in the middle of the park let Madrid maintain a cruising tempo for the majority of the game.
Luka Modric - 8/10
The magical Croatian rarely seems to have an off day, with today's shift also being no exception to that norm. He kept Madrid's game ticking with an ease which would make a clock jealous. Even as the visitors continued to maintain a steady defensive line, Modric was able to ghost his way around and set-up important chances. A classic game from the maestro.
Toni Kroos - 8/10
At the helm of a well-greased engine, the German sprayed passes to launch Madrid attacks with his usual ease and routine. Though slightly lax in possession, he was never really pressurized by the opposition to play out of his element and was subbed off early for a well-earned rest.
Isco - 9.5/10
Isco nearly opened the scoring in the first few seconds of the game. But the pirouetting Spaniard only had to wait half an hour to open the scoring with a neat finish. Throughout the game, his movement was sublime, drawing out defenders as if casting a spell and creating havoc by not letting the opposition even get within glancing distance of the ball. Got his brace and the winner of the game with the completion of a perfect counter-attack move, to cap off a man of the match performance. Subbed off at the dying seconds of the game to standing ovation.
Cristiano Ronaldo - 8.5/10
For a game with many wasted chances, Ronaldo turned the provider by laying off a cleverly disguised pass to Isco in the first half. As the back of the net seemed elusive, Ronaldo continued to ooze class by dictating frontal attacks and setting up clear-cut chances for Vasquez and Ramos. However, we know the Portuguese superstar can do better.
Marco Asensio - 8/10
Asensio showed good understanding with Isco, with their smart link-up play creating plenty of space. Even though he notched up an assist after a well-executed counter attacking came to fruition, he was mostly left stranded, with fatigue from previous matches clearly having an effect.
Lucas Vazquez - 7.5/10
Vasquez came on with 20 minutes to go and got up and running on the right flank. He had two good chances to cancel out any possibility of a visitors turnaround but wasted his shots.
Dani Ceballos - N/A
Came on too late to have an effect
Borja Mayoral - N/A
Came on too late to affect the game.