Five-star Real brush aside Espanyol
Real Madrid are ten points clear at the top of the La Liga standings thanks to a routine 5-0 win over Espanyol. Gonzalo Higuain scored twice, while Cristiano Ronaldo, Sami Khedira and Kaka were also on target.
"Everyone can see that [Gonzalo] Higuain is a special player," said Real coach Jose Mourinho of the goalscorer. "When he is not happy you can see it and when he is you can tell as well. Kaka is another who you can see it in his face when he is enjoying his football."
Ronaldo got the ball rolling for Real after 23 minutes, with the result never in doubt from then. The league leaders had made a habit of falling behind in recent league games at home and there was another subdued opening to this encounter as Espanyol sat deep and looked to hit on the counter-attack.
Kaka was first to threaten on 20 minutes with a shot from the edge of the area that was beaten away by Kiko Casilla. However, the visitors were undone midway through the half when Raul Rodriguez was pressured into giving the ball away to Mesut Ozil. He quickly moved the ball to Higuain, who found Ronaldo inside the area. The Portuguese stroked past Casilla for his 30th goal of the campaign.
Espanyol had to wait 38 minutes for their first effort on goal as a swerving Philippe Coutinho drive was parried away by Iker Casillas and directly from that save Real broke upfield to double their advantage. Another lovely exchange of passes between Ronaldo and Ozil this time found Khedira bursting through to score his first league goal for the club.
Higuain should have made it three just before the break but he shot straight at Casilla after more great build-up play from Ronaldo. The former Manchester United man nearly had his second of the evening seconds later as Casilla fortunately palmed his shot from distance onto the top of the crossbar.
The home side did not have to wait long for the third goal to arrive, though. Just two minutes into the second period Kaka broke clear down the left and his reverse pass through to Higuain was expertly dispatched at the near post. Substitute Sergio Garcia should have pulled one back for the visitors but shot over from Joan Verdu's quick free-kick in the 55th minute, before Ronaldo missed a glorious chance to make it four when he placed his effort too close to Casilla when one-on-one with the keeper.
Real were now in full flow and the fourth goal arrived when Higuain slipped in Kaka, who accelerated past Didac Vila and finished neatly off the far post. Ronaldo missed another great opportunity to extend the lead in his personal goalscoring duel with Lionel Messi as he blazed over with just Casilla to beat but Higuain did make it five with 12 minutes remaining.
The Argentinian forward took advantage of another intelligent pass from Kaka to blast high into the roof of the net. Casilla denied Higuain his hat-trick and youngster Alvaro Morata with fine saves in the final stages but it mattered little as Espanyol slipped to their third defeat in four.