Real Madrid certainly had plenty of chances to win by a bigger margin, but Pepe's header ten minute into the second half was all they could manage. Fortunately for Carlo Ancelotti's team, it was enough for them to claim all three points against Espanyol. The win moves Los Blancos within three points of Barcelona and Atlético Madrid at the top of the league table.
Cristiano Ronaldo missed a glorious opportunity to give his team the lead in the 19th minute. Karim Benzema used some lovely ball control skill to settle the ball as be moved into the Espanyol box. Showing some excellent vision as well, Benzema pulled the ball back to Ronaldo but he was unable to get a clean strike on what should have been a fairly pedestrian tap-in.
Ronaldo again nearly opened the scoring in the 36th minute after Javi López brought down the Madrid striker on the edge of the 18-yard box. Ronaldo's free kick was on target but Francisco Casilla was positioned well and blocked Ronaldo's effort to keep the match scoreless.
At last after a plethora of chances, Madrid broke through on a set piece in the 55th minute.
After Dani Carvajal was brought down on the wing by Christian Stuani, Luka Modrić lined up over the ball and delivered a cross right into the middle of the box. Pepe came flying in from outside the are, completely unmarked, and unleashed a powerful header that Casilla was helpless to stop.
Because it's somewhat amusing to mention, Ronaldo was denied yet again in the 81st minute when Casilla made a tremendous one-handed stop from near point blank range.
Javi López had one last chance in stoppage time to steal a point for the home side but his shot from outside the box curled wide of the post.
Espanyol: Casilla, López, Colotto, Moreno, Fuentes, Raúl, Victor, Alex (Lanzarote 65'), Stuani (Pizzi 84'), Torje (Simäo 65'), Córdoba
Real Madrid: López, Carvajal (Arbeloa 90+1'), Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo, Alonso, Modrić, Bale (Jesé 76'), Ronaldo, Benzema
Goals: Pepe (55')