Real Madrid 3-1 Espanyol: Vinicius, Militao and Asensio on target in comeback win
Real Madrid came from behind to cut Barcelona's lead at the top of LaLiga to six points, with Vinicius Junior, Eder Militao and Marco Asensio scoring in a 3-1 win over Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Madrid entered Saturday's game having gone three matches without a win, and they threatened to lose further ground in the title race when Joselu's early strike put Espanyol ahead.
However, a solo effort from Vinicius Junior swiftly levelled things up, before Militao nodded home at the back post to put the hosts on top before half-time.
Asensio escaped in behind to net a third late on, ensuring Madrid went six points behind Barcelona ahead of the Blaugrana's trip to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, with the Clasico rivals due to face off in a huge clash next week.
Espanyol stunned the Bernabeu with their first real attack eight minutes in, Joselu guiding a side-footed finish into the top-right corner after Ruben Sanchez broke beyond Eduardo Camavinga to cross.
Madrid almost went 2-0 down when Vinicius Souza's header forced Thibaut Courtois into action, but they were level after 22 minutes as Vinicius Junior skipped inside to bend a terrific finish into the bottom-right corner.
With Espanyol coming under intolerable pressure, Militao gave Madrid the lead six minutes before the break, heading Aurelien Tchouameni's delicate delivery in off the crossbar.
A last-ditch clearance from Vinicius Souza denied Rodrygo as Madrid continued to press after the interval, before Leandro Cabrera scuffed an effort wide at the other end.
Rodrygo then rattled the crossbar with a fine free-kick as Espanyol faded, before substitute Asensio applied a calm one-on-one finish to make the points safe in stoppage time.
What does it mean? Madrid halt poor run
As a Champions League clash with Liverpool and a huge league game against Barcelona loom on the horizon, it was crucial that Madrid halted an underwhelming run.
Carlo Ancelotti's men could have drawn three successive league games for the first time since December 2019, and they knew any more dropped points may have proved terminal to their title defence.
However, Madrid responded brilliantly to Joselu's opener to turn the match on its head in rapid fashion, and they now approach the most important week of their season with a spring in their step.
Samba star shines again
With Karim Benzema sidelined by an ankle injury, Vinicius Junior always looked the most likely candidate to lead a response for Madrid.
As well as kick-starting Madrid's comeback, the winger's placed finish took him to 19 goals this season, more than any other Brazilian player from Europe's top five leagues (Neymar is second with 18).
Heady heights for Militao
Vinicius Junior was not the only Selecao star to contribute for Madrid, with Militao in the right place at the right time to convert Tchouameni's outside-of-the-boot cross.
Militao's four headed goals this season is the best tally in LaLiga, while all six of his career goals for Madrid in the competition have come with his head.
Madrid turn their attentions to the Champions League on Wednesday as they look to defend a 5-2 lead over Liverpool in the last 16, while Espanyol are in action against Celta Vigo in LaLiga next Saturday.