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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Isco stars in politicised Madrid win

Real Madrid eased to an 11th consecutive win over Barcelona-based Espanyol

Real Madrid’s Isco in action with Espanyol's Sergi Darder. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante
Real Madrid’s Isco in action with Espanyol's Sergi Darder. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

Isco scored twice as Real Madrid reduced the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona to seven points courtesy of a 2-0 win over Espanyol on a day where football was dragged into violent political clashes in Catalonia.

Barca had earlier extended their perfect start in La Liga to seven games in extraordinary circumstances as they beat Las Palmas 3-0 behind closed doors at the 99,000 capacity Camp Nou following the police crackdown over an independence vote deemed illegal by the Spanish government.

On the field there was far less conflict as Real eased to an 11th consecutive win over Barcelona-based Espanyol for their first home league win of the season.

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"We have to be happy. The important thing was the three points after three games without winning here," said Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

Isco was denied the opening goal inside 30 seconds by Espanyol goalkeeper Pau Lopez.

But the Spanish international made no mistake when he prodded home Cristiano Ronaldo's pass for the opener on 30 minutes.

Ronaldo volleyed over and then fired straight at Lopez when clean through.

However, Espanyol had a slew of chances themselves to level.

Gerard Moreno hit the post just before the break, whilst Keylor Navas denied Marc Navarro and Nacho produced a brilliant goal line clearance to prevent Leo Baptistao a tap in.

Espanyol's profligacy was finally punished 19 minutes from time when Isco curled home his second of the evening at the end of a rapid counter-attack.

"He is a player that plays like he's on the street," Zidane added on Isco's impressive form.

"I like that. He doesn't worry when things don't go his way."

The Victory lifts Madrid up to fifth behind Barca, Sevilla, Valencia and Atletico Madrid.

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