Real Madrid defeated bottom-ranked Espanyol 1-0 on Sunday. In the process, they moved two points ahead of FC Barcelona at the top of the La Liga standings.

In the 45th minute, Casemiro scored the only goal of the game as Karim Benzema produced a brilliant backheel assist to help Los Blancos take control of this season's Spanish title race.

Earlier in the match, the Brazilian had gone close to scoring the opener but his shot was saved by Espanyol goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

Espanyol also had several chances but Real keeper Thibaut Courtois made five saves, displaying some brilliant form.

On Saturday, sporting director Francisco Rufete took over his new role as Espanyol manager after replacing Abelardo Fernandez. Fernandez marked the third Espanyol boss to have been sacked this season, reports BBC.

Under the leadership of their new manager, Espanyol did put up an impressive fight. Wu Lei was among those players who went close to scoring. However, he fell short of sealing the deal.

As of now, Benzema has produced 10 successful assists across all competitions this season. Other than him, only Barcelona's Messi and Luis Suarez have reached double figures in terms of goals and assists during the ongoing La Liga season.

Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema Getty Images

Throughout this season, Benzema has almost entirely carried Madrid's attack on his own shoulders. The 32-year old Frenchman has stepped up in terms of goal scoring output ever since Cristiano Ronaldo departed Madrid for Juventus.

This season alone, the striker has scored 22 goals across all competitions to follow up on a 30-goal campaign back in 2018-19. In this year's La Liga, Benzema has netted the ball 17 times.

After playing 32 games, Real Madrid stands strong as table leaders with 71 points. Barcelona was leading the table in March just before football in Spain and Europe was halted due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. But now, they are second with 69 points after playing the same number of matches.

Real Madrid now needs to win all six of their remaining games, which will ensure that they lift their first La Liga title since the departure of Ronaldo. Or else, they can afford to win five matches and draw one.

Barcelona has drawn two out of their last three games, which means they are slowly losing momentum in the title race. Not only should they win all their remaining six games, but they must also hope that Real drops points.