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Alvaro Morata double helps much-changed Real Madrid return to top of table

Morata double helps Real Madrid return to top of table

06/04/2017 at 09:09

La Liga, Estadio Municipal de Butarque - Leganes 2 (Gabriel 32', Luciano 35') Real Madrid 4 (James 15', Morata 18', 23', Mantovani OG 48')

A Real Madrid team without Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema claimed a 4-2 win over Leganes, holding off a fightback from the hosts to reclaim top spot in La Liga from Barcelona.

Zinedine Zidane rang the changes ahead of a hectic April which will see seven rounds of Liga fixtures played, deciding to rest a number of key players. Regardless, Real Madrid looked to be cruising in the first half, going 3-0 up after just 23 minutes.

But Leganes scored twice in three minutes to peg the visitors back to 3-2, raising hope that the hosts could complete an unlikely comeback. However, Real Madrid did just enough to claim three points, with an own goal from Martin Mantovani giving them a two-goal cushion again.

Leganes showed spirit throughout, pressing and probing in an effort to find a way back into the game, but Real Madrid did enough to hold them at arm’s length despite a series of shaky moments at the back. Zidane’s side remain at the top of La Liga ahead of the weekend’s derby against Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid's Casemiro celebrates a goal.

Real Madrid's Casemiro celebrates a goal.Reuters

TALKING POINT - Will Real Madrid’s strength in depth see them through a packed April?

There are seven rounds of Liga fixtures to be played this month, with April sure to be a pivotal stretch in the Spanish title race. Zidane had that in mind when he made a number of changes to his team for this match, with Real Madrid claiming a 4-2 win over Leganes with many of their key figures rested. So will that strength in depth see the league leaders through the month? Is that where they hold an advantage over Barcelona?

MAN OF THE MATCH - Marco Asensio

Zidane rested a number of key players for this match, handing an opportunity to his fringe players. Asensio is one of those players, with the youngster excelling as Real Madrid’s driving force behind the 4-2 win over Leganes. He was at the heart of everything the visitors did well, putting the opening goal on a plate for Alvaro Morata and outshining some of his more illustrious teammates.

Real Madrid's Marco Asensio (L) and Leganes' Martin Mantovani in action

Real Madrid's Marco Asensio (L) and Leganes' Martin Mantovani in actionReuters

PLAYER RATINGS

Leganes - Herrerin 7, Tito 6, Rico 5, Mantovani 5, Bustinza 6, Siovas 7, Timor 5, Perez 6, Szymanowski 6, Luciano 6, Gabriel 6. Subs - Machis 5, Bueno 5.

Real Madrid - Navas 5, Danilo 6, Nacho 4, Ramos 5, Marcelo 5, Casemiro 5, Kovacic 5, Lucas 5, James 6, Asensio 8, Morata 7. Subs - Isco 5, Mariano 5, Modric 6.

KEY MOMENTS

14’ GOAL! Leganes 0-1 Real Madrid: Real Madrid have taken the lead with pretty much their first chance of the match! Asensio drives to the byline, beating two defenders before squaring for James, who finishes from close range.

18’ OFF THE POST! I'm not sure Herrerin had his angles right there. Danilo took the shot from the edge of the penalty area, striking the outside of the post. The goalkeeper was beaten.

19’ GOAL! Leganes 0-2 Real Madrid: The away team have doubled their advantage! Nacho knocks on a corner kick to the back post, where Morata rises highest to loop a header over the goalkeeper and make it 2-0 to Real Madrid!

22’ GOAL! Leganes 0-3 Real Madrid: This is just too easy for Real Madrid! Kovacic plays the pass through to Morata who makes no mistake in sweeping home the finish from just inside the penalty area.

32’ GOAL! Leganes 1-3 Real Madrid: Leganes have clawed a goal back. The cross was pulled back from the byline and Gabriel was on hand to turn home the ball and spoil Real Madrid's clean sheet. Is the comeback on?

35’ GOAL! Leganes 2-3 Real Madrid: This is incredible! Leganes have scored a second goal in a matter of minutes, with Luciano turning home the ball from close range after Ramos was beaten to a header from a corner kick.

41’ WHAT A SAVE! Vazquez must have thought he'd found the net there. His left footed strike looked destined for the back of the net, but Herrerin read it and got down quickly to make the save.

49’ GOAL! Leganes 2-4 Real Madrid: Real Madrid have scored early on in this second half and that should settle their nerves a little bit. Morata leaped highest from a free-kick, flicking a header in off the head of an opposition defender.

Real Madrid's James Rodriguez (C) celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal

Real Madrid's James Rodriguez (C) celebrates with team mates after scoring a goalReuters

KEY STATS

  • James Rodriguez is the Liga midfielder with the most assists this season (12), after Toni Kroos (14 in all competitions).
  • Alvaro Morata is the first Spanish player to score a hat-trick for Real Madrid in La Liga since Raul Gonzalez against Sevilla in 2009.
  • Keylor Navas has failed to keep a clean sheet in his last eight Liga games.

MATCH IN A TWEET


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