A single goal from Karim Benzema handed Real Madrid a 1-0 win over Espanyol in their first leg Copa Del Rey quarterfinal match at the Estadio Cornellá-El Prat on Tuesday night.
The opening 45 minutes was a half dominated by the away side as Espanyol struggled to contain the fast-paced attack of Madrid.
Luckily for the home team Real Madrid’s finishing was not at its best or they would have entered the half time break more than a goal behind.
Madrid created their first chance on goal as early as the fourth minute after Ronaldo beat a couple of defenders on his way into the box, but he sprayed his shot narrowly wide from 16-yards out.
In the 16th minute Gareth Bale got on the end of a corner-kick, but he headed over the bar with his effort.
Five minutes later and Ronaldo was on the attack again after superbly controlling the ball just inside the box before turning and firing his shot goalwards, but he saw his powerful effort ricochet off the post.
Finally, in the 25th minute Madrid made their early pressure tell after Karim Benzema gave them the lead. The French striker reacted quickest to Bale’s flick on at the near post and headed the ball home, 1-0.
Ronaldo’s finishing certainly wasn’t at its best as he squandered another chance in the 36th minute flashing another low shot past the wrong side of the post.
A minute later and Benzema almost found his second on the night after he worked himself into a good shooting position on the edge of the box, but the keeper made a fantastic stop to deny him.
The Espanyol keeper was at his best again two minutes before the break as he beat away a 25-yard free-kick from Bale.
The second 45 saw Espanyol come into the game a bit more and they came close to levelling matters in the 53rd minute when Sergio García cut inside from the right flank and shot the ball inches wide from the edge of t box.
Ten minutes later Real Madrid were on the attack as Benzema played Álvaro Arbeloa through on goal, but his shot from a tight angle was well-saved by the keeper.
In the 84th minute Garcia was at it again for Espanyol, beating one defender as he found himself one-on-one with Iker Casillas, but the keeper produced a great stop to deny him and see Madrid walk away 1-0 winners.