Vinicius Junior helps Real Madrid end scoring crisis in emphatic style in comeback win vs Espanyol

MADRID – Real Madrid came from a goal down to beat Espanyol 3-1 in their La Liga clash at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Joselu gave the visitors a surprise lead in the eighth minute but Vinicius Junior quickly brought Madrid level, curling a shot into the bottom corner. Rodrigo Goes twice went close as Madrid pushed for a second, before Eder Militão cleared Aurelien Tchoumeni’s cross over the bar to put the home side ahead just before half-time.

A quiet second half saw Rodrigo hit the woodwork with a free kick and substitute Marco Asensio netted a third goal in extra time as Madrid took three points to retain some hope of chasing league leaders Barcelona.

Swift response

1. Vinicius, Militão and Asensio end Madrid’s goal drought

Going into this game, talk was that Madrid’s forward line was not fit for purpose, having scored just one goal in their last three games – youngster Álvaro Rodríguez’s header against Atlético Madrid on 25 February – the previous weekend’s 0–0. Losing more ground in the title race with a 0-0 draw with Real Betis. Those concerns were quelled here by Karim Benzema being ruled out with an ankle injury.

It was a weird, short-lived issue to focus on. Does anyone really doubt the quality and goal-scoring ability of Benzema, Vinicius and Rodrygo after what we’ve seen over the past few years? And you don’t even need to go that far back. As coach Carlo Ancelotti pointed out last week, this is a team that has conceded just five goals against Liverpool at Anfield.

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Perhaps the team relies too much on Vinicius’ magic to unlock the opposition defence, but when he is in this kind of form, that is not a problem. The winger had four Espanyol defenders to beat when he picked up the ball and drove it infield to level the score at 1–1. Rodrigo is an intriguing prospect when picked centrally. Ancelotti’s favorite Benzema back-up this season, he looked the most likely to score as Madrid chased a second goal. In fact it was another Brazilian, Militão – who dominated in the air in both boxes – who put Madrid ahead with his sixth goal this season.

Madrid are the top scorers in La Liga despite Benzema’s absence, with 50 goals to Barcelona’s 46. If they fail to win the league – as looks likely – it will not be for lack of goals.

2. Defensive questions ahead of Liverpool tour

Madrid’s defensive record this season has been solid; Only 1-0 specialists Barca have conceded fewer goals in LaLiga. That hasn’t stopped Ancelotti from repeatedly turning his back around, as if he’s not entirely pleased with what he’s seeing. Goal-scorer Militão is certainly part of that first-choice backline, but regular partner Antonio Rudiger hasn’t always sounded convincing. He was rested here, with veteran Nacho coming in at full-back as a reward for his recent performances.

Dani Carvajal starts at right-back when available, but provides far less cutting edge than in the past. At left-back, the unavailability of Ferland Mendy and David Alaba – both expected to return soon – saw Eduardo Camavinga out of position once again. He was at fault for Espanyol’s opener, unable to deal with Rubén Sanchez’s cross for Joselu. As you would expect for a midfielder, Camavinga is an asset going forward, but you would not want to line him up against Mohamed Salah on Wednesday as Liverpool look to make up for a three-goal deficit in their tie. Expect Mendy, if fit, to return to the team to face Liverpool.

3. Joselu returns to trouble Madrid once again

Only Robert Lewandowski has more goals in La Liga this season, the 12 scored by top-scoring Spaniard Joselu. The forward also has an incredible record against Real Madrid, scoring eight times against them in 10 matches across all competitions. He’s in impressive company; Only Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are ahead of him on that list since 2010.

The 32-year-old was briefly a Madrid player himself, scoring just once for the first team in an 8–1 win over Almeria in May 2011 – as well as dozens of goals for reserve team RM Castilla – before an erratic career. First a path that saw him play for Hoffenheim, Eintracht Frankfurt, Hannover, Stoke City and Newcastle United before settling back in Spain with Alavés and now Espanyol, where he became one of La Liga’s most consistent finishers of late Are.

Espanyol’s hopes of avoiding relegation this season – defeat here left them just two points above the bottom three at the final whistle – rest firmly on Joselu’s shoulders. Among their rivals for the drop, only Getafe can boast of such a reliable goal scorer, in Enes Unal.

best and worst performers


Vinicius Junior, Real Madrid: Inspired Madrid’s comeback in the first half and scored the goal of the game.

Joselu, Espanyol: An impeccable finish gave his side hope of a reversal.

Rodrigo Goes, Real Madrid: Unlucky not to score, going close on three separate occasions, including hitting the bar.


Eduardo Camavinga, Real Madrid: Not a natural left-back and was caught out for Espanyol’s opener.

Martin Braithwaite, Espanyol: The former Barcelona player has nothing to offer on the left wing.

Vinicius Souza, Espanyol: Couldn’t compete with the class of Choumeyny, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.

Highlights and Notable Moments

After initially trailing, Madrid equalized through Vinicius.

They then went ahead courtesy of Militão’s header, although that goal was about to cross with the outside of Choumeni’s boot.

After the match: what the players/managers said

Carlo Ancelotti: “The game was good, we didn’t start well, it could have been complicated, but the goal didn’t affect the attitude of the team, we fought in the first half and controlled the second half.”

Ancelotti on avoiding complacency against Liverpool: “We had an experience with Chelsea last year, we had the advantage and then it was difficult for us. We can’t hide the fact that we have an advantage, hope we take advantage of it with a good game , we have to move on.” All out for 90 minutes like we did in the first leg.”

Vinicius Junior: “We are calm and [when we go behind] We always come back. We have to keep doing this and keep improving, and thank you to the fans who came out today, we have to thank them and hopefully many more on Wednesday.”

Vinicius on his goal: “It’s a move I work on a lot in training, but it’s more difficult in games because there are so many players around me. But I did well.”

Key Stats (Provided by ESPN Stats & Information Research)

Joselu’s opening goal against Real Madrid was his eighth in all competitions, his second highest against one club (10 vs Cadiz). Only Lionel Messi (11) and Luis Suarez (10) have scored more against Los Blancos since 2010.

Joselu’s goal broke Real Madrid’s seven-match home shutout streak against Espanyol in La Liga, the longest such streak against a single club in the club’s league history.

Vinicius Júnior has scored in both LaLiga matches against Espanyol since scoring in the reverse fixture on 28 August.

Eder Militao’s goal was his sixth goal for Real Madrid in all competitions this season – the only time he has scored four goals since joining the club in 2019.

Militão has scored four of Madrid’s top five goals in La Liga this season, and he has scored more goals in all competitions (six) than any other defender at the La Liga club this season. Next on the list is Rayo’s Florian Lejeune (four) and a number of players have three including Barcelona’s Marcos Alonso and Sergi Roberto.

On his 400th appearance for the club, Toni Kroos recorded his 81st assist with Real Madrid in all competitions – four of them being for Vinicius Júnior.

Real Madrid’s last defeat when leading at half-time in all competitions was in the Copa del Rey in January 2021 against Alcoyano (2–1 after extra time).


real Madrid: Liverpool came from the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie at the Bernabeu to overcome a 5-2 deficit on Wednesday. then this is the second of three clasicos Travel to Madrid in a few weeks to face La Liga leaders Barcelona on Sunday, March 19 (Stream live in the US on ESPN+ at 4PM ET.,

Espanyol: Celta Vigo travel to Catalonia to face Espanyol next Saturday (Live stream at 1:30 PM. ET on ESPN+ in the US) as both sides look to avoid being dragged further towards the relegation quagmire.

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