03 October 2011
Fernando Porrero / Translation by Michael J. O'Donnell
Higuain is back. The Argentinean went through a rough time after his back surgery last season, but tonight he proved to be in top form with a hat-trick against Espanyol. Real Madrid earned their third victory this week with an impressive 13 goal tally.
Albiol, Lass and Higian made the starting lineup covering the absences of Pepe, Carvalho and Benzema. Ramos teamed up with Albiol in the centre of defence and Arbeloa was assigned right back duties. Cristiano Ronaldo had a chance to score two minutes into the game from outside the box, but goalkeeper Cristian cleared the ball with danger for his side, sending it to one of the posts. Espanyol looked to get rid of the Whites' pressure with long passes from Thievy, and Romaric nearly scored on the 15-minute mark with an attempt from midfield. Mourinho's men responded one minute later with a Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Higuain connection finished off by the Argentine in a one-on-one against keeper Cristian.
The game opened up for Real Madrid, who used this to make fast counterattacks and capitalise on the speed of their strikers. Espanyol decided to put pressure on the Madridistas closer to midfield and had more chances on goal that were all cleared by Casillas.
The locals pressurised hard after half-time; they posed no threat close ot goal, but forced many turnovers from Mourinho's side. Nevertheless, a long pass by Arbeloa in the 66th minute was picked up and pushed into the net by Higuain, who thus practically sealed the match. Mourinho made Khedira come on for Lass (70'), as the French midfielder had been booked and the coach wanted to avoid taking risks.
Callejon replaced Ozil six minutes later and was received with an ovation by his former crowd. Espanyol kept looking for a goal, which forced them to leave open spaces that Real Madrid used in counterattacks. Ronaldo had a chance to score a third for the team on the 78-minute mark, but his shot wasn't on target.
A great and very selfless assist inside the box from the Portuguese striker allowed Callejon to score the third (81'). Granero then came on for Kaka (83') and, when the game was practically over, a defensive mistake by the locals gave the ball to Higuain and the Argentine defeated Cristian again with a skilful soft touch on the ball.
|C. Alfonso 75'|
|Callejón 78'||Goal 83'|
|Higuaín||Goal 17' 68' 90'|