Real Madrid maintained their dominance in the La Liga with a 2-0 victory over Espanyol at the Bernabeu. A first half strike from Alvaro Morata set the proceedings for a dominant display from the Los Blancos.
A much-awaited return for Gareth Bale was completed with a well-taken goal as Madrid won a comfortable league game despite resting key players in Marcelo, Casemiro and Karin Benzema.
Let's take a look at how the players fared:
Kiko Casilla – 6/10
The second choice custodian had very little to do throughout the 90 minutes and was a mere spectator for the hosts.
Dani Carvajal – 7/10
The Spaniard was present in every attack that happened from his flank while also negating the threat of Espanyol's main creative force, Pablo Piatti. Carvajal put on an absolute masterclass and Danilo would do well to take notes from him.
Pepe – 6/10
The Portuguese had a glorious chance in the second half which was his only attacking output in the game. He struggled against Moreno but somehow held his ground for the entirety of the game to help his side keep a clean sheet.
Raphael Varane – 6/10
Varane was calm in possession and sprayed the ball to the wingers at will. He did not have much defending to do in what was one of the easiest games he has had so far this season.
Nacho Fernandez – 7.5/10
Real Madrid's best defender on the night was Nacho who showed immense work rate, surging up and down his flank. He also constantly pressurised Reyes, negating the former Arsenal man’s influence on the game considerably.
Toni Kroos – 6/10
Kroos got the opportunity tonight to dictate the game from deep and he did that perfectly. He seldom went forward but set the tempo of the match by shielding his side's backline. He was extremely calm in possession and pinged passes to his attackers at will.
Mateo Kovacic – 7/10
The Croatian was creative with the ball and never thought twice before going in for a challenge off the ball as well. A perfect player for Real Madrid to have in Luka Modric's absence, Kovacic has been putting in fairly decent performances the past few weeks which would help get his confidence back.
Isco – 8/10
A brilliant 90 minutes from the Spanish playmaker. He set up both the goals on either side of the half-time whistle and was constantly a menace for the Espanyol defence.
Lucas Vazquez – 7/10
The youngster again put in a great shift but failed to provide any meaningful end product in the final third. With Bale back in the fray, Vazquez needs goals in his locker to have a chance of breaking into the starting lineup.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.5/10
Ronaldo was again unlucky not to be among the goalscorers as he squandered a host of chances. He also had many penalty claims turned down but the number of chances he created bodes well for him and his team. The goals will come soon enough for the Portuguese and he will be a key figure in Real Madrid’s Champions League and La Liga runs.
Alvaro Morata – 8/10
Morata made the most of his chance in the starting lineup by bagging a well-deserved goal. He also should have registered an assist only for Ronaldo to miss a glorious chance. The Spaniard will be hoping to keep Benzema out of the starting lineup with performances like this.
Casemiro – 7/10
The Champions League wondergoal goalscorer made a successful cameo appearance and stopped many of Espanyol's attacks in midfield.
Gareth Bale – 8/10
An ideal return for the Welshman as his comeback from a long injury layoff could not have been better scripted than this. Bale was at his best from the moment he came on and looked sharp for most of the game. He capped off a fine performance with a goal as well.
Marcelo – 5/10
The Brazilian did not have enough time on the pitch to have any sort of impact.
Diego Lopez – 6/10
Other than the two goals that Madrid scored, Lopez had very little to do as Zinedine Zidane's men created very few clear cut chances to test the custodian.
Aaron Caricol – 5/10
The 19-year-old was unable to get a foothold in the game for the most part, but considering his age and the potential he has, Aaron has a bright future ahead of him.
Diego Reyes – 6/10
Reyes was up against Cristiano Ronaldo and stood his ground well for most of the 90 minutes. He did get beaten on a couple of occasions but the defender did well to put that behind him and perform at a high level for the remainder of the match.
Oscar Duarte – 7/10
He was Espanyol's most solid defender of the game. His challenge on Ronaldo in the second half kept his side in the game.
David Lopez – 5/10
Lopez was decent in the first 45 minutes but his influence faded as the game went on.
Pape Diop – 5/10
The midfielder was given the responsibility to mark Isco but failed to do his job as the Spaniard created havoc in the Espanyol backline. Diop was caught out of position far too often in that was a game to forget for him.
Javi Fuego – 6/10
Fuego was decent when on the ball but could not cope with the pace of Madrid's midfield. He did, however, complete 33 passes – the third highest in his team.
Pablo Piatti – 5/10
The man with eight goals and seven assists this season could not do anything to trouble the Madrid defenders. He managed just one cross in the entire game and failed to even complete a dribble.
Jose Jurado – 4.5/10
Jurado had a horrible game as he was invisible for the most of the 90 minutes. He cut a frustrating figure for the visitors on the night.
Jose Antonio Reyes – 4/10
The veteran was hardly involved and was rightly substituted during the break. The former Arsenal man managed just 12 passes during the time he was on the pitch in what was a pretty poor display.
Gerard Moreno – 5/10
The striker got no service whatsoever from his midfielders and hence had to drop deep to receive the ball which negated his influence on the game.
Hernan Perez – 6/10
Perez made intelligent runs but took far too much time on the ball to create any goalscoring opportunities.
Alvaro Vazquez – 4/10
He was anonymous after coming on and contributed nothing offensively or defensively.