Bale was certainly not the only Real player out of sorts but the 28-year-old, now back to full fitness, was perhaps under most pressure to stake his claim. After missing with a number of efforts at goal, and receiving a yellow card in the first half, he was finally replaced with nine minutes remaining. Zidane, however, would not be drawn on the performance either of Bale, or the rest of his stand-ins, after the match.
WHAT A FINISH TO THE MATCH!— Sky Sports LaLiga (@SkyRevista) February 27, 2018
Espanyol score with seconds remaining to beat Real Madrid, who suffer yet another La Liga defeat. https://t.co/Dpn50ZZcKS
"If you lose here today it is because things did not work for many reasons, not just because of a player or a play," he told beIN Sports. Instead it was Gerard who stole the show as Espanyol scored a deserved win that sees them climb to 13th in La Liga. Real, meanwhile, will fall 17 points behind leaders Barcelona if the Catalans overcome Las Palmas on Thursday. "If the result is not what we want then it is a step back," Zidane said. "I do not have to reproach my players, we played the game but we did not get what we expected."
Real Madrid conceded in added time to lose 1-0 at Espanyol— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 27, 2018
Cristiano Ronaldo wasn't involved pic.twitter.com/SSIcWQInS8
With PSG left praying for a miracle after Neymar was stretchered off wth a foot injury on Sunday, Zidane wrapped his own star player up in cotton wool, as Ronaldo was not even included on the bench. Zidane would not be drawn on Neymar's chances of recovery. "We have to wait, all we know is he is injured," the Frenchman said.
It's happened again!— Goal (@goal) February 27, 2018
Espanyol score a 93rd minute winner against Real Madrid
Strap yourselves in, Zidane fans ? pic.twitter.com/8lgMdRaMxh
Karim Benzema was also rested, allowing Bale his 116th La Liga appearance, drawing him equal with David Beckham. The Welshman almost gave the visitors an early lead, reacting first to Achraf Hakimi's deflected cross but poking his near-post header too close to Diego Lopez. Real, however, gradually ceded the ascendancy to Espanyol, who twice could have been in front were it not for a combination of sloppy finishing and bad luck.
? "If we beat Espanyol we will only be 4pts behind Atlético."February 27, 2018
✅ FT - Espanyol 1-0 Real Madrid
? Oh dear. pic.twitter.com/vD7DyqwWeW
With just over 20 minutes left, Benzema replaced the ineffective Isco but Espanyol came closest to snatching a winner when Gerard's header was saved from six yards. Bale trudged off in the 81st minute and Gerard finally got the goal he deserved, catching Sergio Garcia's cross perfectly with a brilliant shot that sailed past Navas and into the corner.
Espanyol score in the 93rd minute to shock a Cristiano-less Real Madrid! pic.twitter.com/rO79oSlw1f— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 27, 2018
Where does defeat to Espanyol leave Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane? pic.twitter.com/n8DCbTgCnP— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) February 27, 2018