Real Madrid manager Juande Ramos watched his side earn a 10th straight La Liga victory and declared: "We can still knock Liverpool out of the Champions League." It was his 11th win in 13 games since taking over and he admitted it was a major morale boost ahead of his return to England in a week's time
"We can win at Anfield," said the Real Madrid coach. "The team has to convince itself of that. I have always said that the match lasts 180 minutes and we are only a goal down."
Having been beaten around the head with a tactics manual by Rafa Benitez last week, Ramos tinkered with his line-up against an Espanyol side, still in the bottom three, but fresh from taking the scalp of Barçelona in their previous fixture. Ramos employed Raul at wide-left midfield and Wesley Sneijder in central midfield, and left out Marcelo. The result was a disjointed first half that had players arguing among themselves as they went down the tunnel after a goalless first 45 minutes.
There was no improvement in the second half until Ramos threw on midfielders Guti and Marcelo for Sniejder and Gonzalo Higuain. Guti won a foul on the edge of the Espanyol box and curled the free-kick over the wall and past Carlos Kameni in the home side's goal.
Then it was the turn of the other substitute Marcelo to play his part with a centre from the left that found Raul on the edge of the area, who met the cross perfectly with a crisp shot that put the result beyond doubt.
Espanyol (4-1-4-1): Kameni; Sergio Sanchez, Jarque, Pareja, David Garcia; Moises (Lola, 83); Luis Garcia, Roman (Coro, 73), De la Pena, Nene; Ivan Alonso (Tamudo, 62). Substitutes not used: Cristian (gk), Torrejon, Callejon, Chica.
Real Madrid (4-4-2): Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Cannavaro, Heinze; Robben (Saviola, 74), Sneijder (Guti, 58), Lass, Raul; Higuain (Marcelo, 58), Huntelaar. Substitutes not used: Dudek (gk), Salgado, Javi Garcia, Van der VaartReuse content