Champions League: Mariano dazzles for Real Madrid

Champions League: Mariano dazzles for Real Madrid

Champions League: Mariano dazzles for Real Madrid

Coach Julen Lopetegui made a number of changes to his starting XI following the club's Champions League exploits in midweek, but there is one man who continues to be conspicuous by his absence: Vinicius Junior.

VAR was more helpful for Real Madrid, who had initially seen Marco Asensio's victor against Espanyol disallowed for offside.

Real held on despite late Espanyol pressure to take top spot before second-placed Barcelona host Girona on Sunday in a Catalan derby.

"We have to focus on each different situation and make the best decisions, also depending on the opposition. Hopefully we can all be at his level", Isco told reporters after the game.

"I have asked them to include us in the Eastern Conference, but at the moment it is not possible, imagine that all the Spaniards who play in the National Basketball Association are on our team, we would go and play several games in a row, it would not be complicated".

Thibaut Courtois, playing in goal after Keylor Navas started in the Champions League, saved Madrid in one of the few good chances created by Espanyol in the first half, and Borja Iglesias nearly equalized but struck the crossbar in the second half after a mistake by Sergio Ramos.

Those efforts helped him to two La Liga titles, two Copa de Rey triumphs, four Champions League crowns and three Club World Cup wins.

The reigning Champions League champions got their next score in the 58th minute.

"As a coach, he has entered the history books as a giant of Real Madrid".

Thibaut Courtois returned to the side after dropping to the bench against Roma with Keylor Navas deputising and Lopetegui says the Belgian is learning how to play football with his feet.

Former Real star Luis Figo was impressed with the side's showing in their dominant win over the Giallorossi, declaring: "They played really good stuff and, both individually and collectively, you have to be happy with their performance".

He said: "I could hardly have asked for a better debut, at home and in the Champions League and scoring as well, and I'm very grateful to my teammates for helping it go as well as it did".

He said: "I'm very happy when I hear the Bernabeu singing about the Ballon d'Or, and the praise from my team-mates and fans".

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