MADRID - Real Madrid took a huge step towards the Copa del Rey semi-finals with a 1-0 win away to Espanyol in the first leg of their quarter-final tie yesterday.
Karim Benzema got the only goal of the game as he headed home Alvaro Arbeloa's cross on 25 minutes.
Espanyol were indebted to goalkeeper Kiko Casilla for not having an even greater deficit to overcome yesterday at the Santiago Bernabeu as he made a string of fine saves to keep his side in the tie.
However, they should have snatched a draw on the night as Colombian striker Jhon Cordoba fired straight at Iker Casillas when played through on goal eight minutes from time.
That save extended Casillas personal record of not having conceded for the past 592 minutes in which he has kept goal and Real boss Carlo Ancelotti lauded the Spanish captain's professionalism having been dropped from La Liga duty in favour of Diego Lopez action for over a year.
"I congratulate Iker because he is doing very well, he deserves his record for his professionalism," he said. "He made a save at the end and has played very well in all the games in which he has played.
"We have a lot of games at the moment and so both (goalkeepers) are playing the same number of games and Iker is as important as Diego Lopez is."