Real Madrid’s Ronaldo gamble boomerangs, lose 1-0 to Espanyol

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Real Madrid rested Cristiano Ronaldo and paid the bitter price, suffering their fifth La Liga defeat of the season as Espanyol’s Gerard Moreno struck late for a 1-0 win over the Spanish champions on Tuesday.

Catalan forward Moreno wasted a number of chances but his last-minute volley took a wicked deflection off defender Raphael Varane to secure Espanyol’s first victory over Real in 11 years.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane rested Ronaldo ahead of next week’s visit to Paris St-Germain in the UEFA Champions League and, a promising opening spell aside, his side were second best.

Real stay third on 51 points from 26 games, seven behind second-placed Atletico Madrid, who host Leganes on Wednesday, and 14 adrift of pacesetters Barcelona who play on Thursday.

Espanyol’s Moreno had wasted a gilt-edged chance in the first half when he pounced on a wayward Varane clearance before seeing an effort incorrectly ruled out by the linesman’s flag.

After the break Oscar Duarte clipped the bar before Moreno’s last minute strike secured victory.

It took Espanyol up to 13th place with 31 points after their first win in eight games.