Casemiro: "That's another final we've won and we're going for LaLiga"

Espanyol's Bernardo Espinosa in action with Real Madrid's Karim Benzema. Albert Gea Reuters

Karim Benzema's exquisite assist set up Casemiro for Real Madrid's victor as they edged out Espanyol 1-0 to move two points clear at the top of La Liga.

The Frenchman brilliantly set up Casemiro with a handsome backheel as Madrid went two points clear of rivals Barcelona who drew 2-2 with Celta Vigo on Saturday. "We have to focus on ourselves, there's still a long way to go".

Real looked in control for most of the match but had to endure two nervy moments in the final stages.

"I think this one [is the best], Karim's", Zidane said.

Real Madrid host Getafe on Thursday at 9pm, while Espanyol travel to Real Sociedad at the earlier time of 6.30pm.

Sporting director Francisco Rufete took over as manager on Saturday after replacing Abelardo Fernandez - the third Espanyol boss to be sacked this season.

His task is now to make up a nine-point gap between his team in 20th and Celta in 17th.

The title rivals have six games left. "It was an incredible assist".

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"I won't coach for 20 years".

Madrid, though, were scruffy and ponderous at the RCDE Stadium, this perhaps their least impressive win over the last three weeks.

Sunday's matches continued to be closed to fans due to the coronavirus pandemic, like all games in Spain since the competition resumed two weeks ago.

While Zinedine Zidane's charges were far from their best especially in the first and failed to tick against bottom-placed Espanyol, they did hold on for a crucial win which sends them back on top of the Spanish top flight.

Madrid were sloppy but created chances. The very good thing is it is really a staff move Sergio with his head, Karim's handle and backheel, and then Casemiro appreciates that Karim can invent a little something.

Casemiro's fifth effort before half-time finally evaded Lopez to break the deadlock, though, as Benzema teed up his team-mate with a cute backheel through Bernardo Espinosa's legs.

Espanyol remained a threat though, with Marc Roca's in-swinging free-kick forcing a fine save from Thibaut Courtois on 20 minutes before the unsafe Wu turned up another glorious opening when he blazes over the angle of post and bar after racing through on goal. Marcelo nearly deflected into his own net for the last action before the whistle blew.

The 35-year-old found himself under a 60-yard punt from his goalkeeper before cushioning the ball out of the air perfectly for Gerard Moreno to volley in.

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