Real Madrid close gap on Barcelona and Atletico Madrid with victory over Espanyol

Pepe scored the only goal of the game as Real Madrid took advantage of the other two teams' draw

Real Madrid closed to within three points of the Primera Division leaders with a 1-0 victory over Espanyol at Estadi Cornella-El Prat on Sunday.

Centre-back Pepe headed home the match winner from Luka Modric's 55th-minute free-kick as Madrid took full advantage of the goalless draw between joint pacesetters Barcelona and Atletico Madrid on Saturday night.

The victory was Madrid's eighth in nine games since their last league loss, which was the 2-1 defeat at Barca in October, but it was closer than they would have liked after they failed to make the most of a host of chances to finish the game off.

For once, it was Cristiano Ronaldo - who brought up 400 career goals in Madrid's win over Celta Vigo last week and who could win the FIFA Ballon d'Or award on Monday - who had forgotten his shooting boots as he missed out on a hat-trick of great openings in the final half-hour.

At the other end of the Primera Division standings, Real Betis fell five points adrift of their rivals in the relegation zone after they lost 2-1 at home to Osasuna while second-bottom Rayo Vallecano won 1-0 at Getafe.

Little went Betis' way as they slumped to a 12th defeat of the season, going behind after just two minutes to a Roberto Torres goal, being reduced to 10 men before the break when Nono was sent off and then seeing Osasuna double their lead with a 57-minute own goal from Jordi Figueras.

Betis looked to have been handed a lifeline when Osasuna goalkeeper Andres Fernandez was sent off in conceding a penalty on the hour-mark, but the home side could not even capitalise on that gift as Ruben Castro smashed his spot-kick against the crossbar.

Betis did finally manage to pull a goal back through substitute Jorge Molina 10 minutes from time, but it was too little too late to save them.

To make matters worse for the Seville-based outfit, their nearest rivals at the foot of the standings Rayo had picked up a valuable three-point haul earlier in the day.

Alberto Bueno notched the only goal of the game on 29 minutes as Rayo earned just fifth win of the season while Madrid neighbours Getafe crashed to a fourth successive defeat.

In the day's other game, Levante picked up a much-needed victory over Malaga. The Valencia-based side, who had lost six of their previous seven league games, leap-frogged Malaga and up to 10th with a 1-0 victory thanks to David Barral's 19th-minute goal.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London