BARCELONA: Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema produced an audacious back-heeled assist for Casemiro to score as they beat Espanyol 1-0 away last night to capitalise on Barcelona’s slip-up a day earlier and move two points clear at the top of La Liga.
Brazilian midfielder Casemiro slid to the ground to guide the ball home on the stroke of halftime after being played in by a stroke of genius from Benzema, who dragged the ball through the legs of the defender marking him to find his team mate.
Real saw out their slender lead for a fifth consecutive victory which gave them a two-point cushion in the title race over Barca, who were held to a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo on Saturday.
Espanyol, who were playing their first game under caretaker coach Francisco Rufete after he became their fourth manager of a troubling campaign, remain rooted to the bottom of the table on 24 points, 10 away from escaping the relegation zone.
Earlier, Eibar edged closer to La Liga survival by beating Granada 2-1 away and further diminishing the hopes of the current bottom three sides of staying up.
Villarreal beat neighbours Valencia 2-0 with a pair of brilliant volleyed goals in the first half to boost their chances of a top-four finish, while further crushing their rivals hopes of returning to the Champions League.