Real Madrid continued its impressive start to the New Year with a narrow 1-0 win at Espanyol in the first-leg of its Copa del Rey Quarterfinal. French striker Karim Benzema scored the eventual winner with a header in the 25th-minute from an Alvaro Arbeloa cross.
"Espanyol made it difficult especially at the end and this was a good result for us," fullback Arbeloa told reporters after the game. "They (Espanyol) knew that 1-0 was bad and so pushed forward hoping to score in front of their own fans but we were solid. This is the line to follow for us as if we can keep secure at the back then we know we will get chances in attack with the quality we have there. There is a good relationship in the dressing room with the coach and we need to keep this run going."
The winner of the two-game series could play reigning champion Atletico Madrid in the semi-final, provided that Diego Simeone’s men come through their quarterfinal series with Athletic Bilbao. Barcelona, meanwhile, begins its quarterfinal series against Levante on Wednesday, but is on the other side of the draw.