La Liga: Ronaldo rested for UCL, but Real Madrid keep winning

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
0 Comments

MADRID (AP) Real Madrid rested Cristiano Ronaldo and other regulars for the Champions League and still got the win it needed to stay in contention for second place in the Spanish league.

[ PREMIER LEAGUE: Saints go marching up; Chelsea close in on 4th ]

Gareth Bale and Borja Mayoral scored first-half goals as Madrid defeated Leganes 2-1 on Saturday to move within a point of second-place Atletico Madrid, which plays at Alaves on Sunday.

Ronaldo and captain Sergio Ramos weren’t included for the match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, while Marcelo, Luka Modric and Lucas Vazquez stayed on the bench.

Madrid defeated Bayern Munich 2-1 in Germany last week to take the edge going into Tuesday’s second leg of the Champions League semifinals at the Bernabeu.

Madrid is trying to return to the European final for the fourth time in five seasons.

[ PREMIER LEAGUE: Wenger visits Old Trafford, Mourinho one more time ]

Bale and Karim Benzema, who didn’t start in the first leg against Bayern, were in the lineup against Leganes. Casemiro was the only player to start in both matches.

“I’m happy with the attitude of my players, it was exemplary,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “The first half was phenomenal.”

Darko Brasanac scored midway through the second half for Leganes, which earlier this season eliminated Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.

The southern Madrid club dropped to 16th in the 20-team standings and is not fully clear of relegation with three matches left.

Leganes midfielder Gabriel Pires was sent off in injury time.

[ MORE: Southampton a point from safety | Chelsea two points back of 4th ]

Barcelona needs a draw at relegation-threatened Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday to win its third La Liga in four seasons.

“We can’t be happy with how things unfolded in La Liga,” Zidane said. “We lost too many points in the beginning.”

Madrid has a game in hand, at Sevilla.

Sevilla coach Vincenzo Montella was fired on Saturday because of poor results, and replaced by Joaquin Caparros, who coached the team in the early 2000s.