Real Madrid eased into the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, closing a perfect first month of 2014 with another victory and another clean sheet. Los Blancos have won all their eight matches this year without conceding a single goal.
The victory earned in the first leg in Barcelona gave Los Merengues a lot of confidence, and Jese’s early goal made it almost impossible for Espanyol to find any options.
It didn’t take Los Blancos long to take the lead and get a two-goal advantage in the tie. Xabi Alonso sent a brilliant cross for Jese, who controlled it excellently and finished it with prowess at the near post.
Javier Aguirre had lined-up a very conservative eleven, with a five-man midfield line, hoping to stop Real’s quality playmakers. However, that didn’t work and Los Merengues controlled the game at every moment.
The could have easily scored the second in the following minutes, but goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was alert to the danger and saved Ronaldo’s and Di Maria’s chances.
With his side showing little believe in their possibilities, Aguirre tried to change things bringing young striker Jhon Cordoba into play. Nevertheless, with Espanyol trying to reach Iker Casillas’ box, Real found more spaces to seal their victory.
Again Casilla denied a powerful effort by Ronaldo, and in the next play the Portuguese sent his shot wide of the post after a brilliant play by Isco.
Christian Stuani came in to form a striker trio with Cordoba and Sergio Garcia, in a desperate effort to score one goal that would give Espanyol some hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals. However, everything was over when Victor Sanchez was shown a second yellow card and the visitors were down to ten men.
Ronaldo could have doubled Madrid’s lead, but he didn’t have a good night, as once again he sent his effort wide of the post from close range.