International

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Bale scores twice as Madrid tops Leganes to keep its lead


MADRID (AP) -- With Karim Benzema out injured and Cristiano Ronaldo playing below expectations again, Gareth Bale came through and got the job done for Real Madrid.
Bale scored a pair of goals just before halftime to lead Madrid to a 3-0 win over Leganes on Sunday, securing the Spanish league lead for his team ahead of the city derby against Atletico Madrid.

Alvaro Morata, replacing Benzema in the starting lineup, sealed Madrid's fourth straight victory with a second-half goal at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Madrid reached 27 points, five more than second-placed Barcelona, which plays at fourth-placed Sevilla later Sunday. Atletico, which lost 2-0 at Real Sociedad on Saturday, is currently third with 21 points from 11 matches.
Madrid, unbeaten this season, plays against Atletico at the Vicente Calderon on Nov. 19, following the international break.
''I'm pleased with the work everyone put in, not any player in particular,'' Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. ''There will always be one who makes the difference, but the great thing today was the team.''
Bale dominated the action from the start and was Madrid's most dangerous forward throughout the match Sunday, and his first goal came just as the crowd was growing impatient with the team's lackluster play.
After a perfect long pass by Francisco ''Isco'' Alarcon in the 38th minute, Bale calmly found the net after his first attempt was stopped by the goalkeeper.
Bale's second came in first-half injury time after a free kick cross into the area. The ball was deflected toward Bale and he easily scored net from just in front of the goal line.
Bale also had two great scoring chances early in the second half, first with a close-range shot and then with a header, both requiring difficult saves by Leganes goalkeeper Jon Ander Serantes.
The striker has scored three goals in the last two matches for Madrid. He also found the net in the team's 3-3 draw at Legia Warsaw in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Ronaldo's up-and-down season continued and he had another lackluster performance at the Bernabeu, where he hasn't scored in five straight games, his longest scoreless drought at home since he arrived at Madrid in 2009. Ronaldo, who is set to extend his contract with Madrid until 2021, last scored at the Bernabeu against Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League on Sept. 14.
''I don't think he's worried, he looks good and committed,'' Zidane said. ''It's true he likes scoring goals, especially at this stadium, but he's calm.''
Benzema was sidelined on Sunday because of a knee ailment, and replacement Morata got Madrid's third goal from inside the area after a pass by Toni Kroos in the 76th.
Zidane brought back midfielder Luka Modric, who entered the match in the 62nd after being sidelined for almost a month following a surgical procedure on his knee.
It was the fourth consecutive loss for Leganes, which was making its first-division debut at the Bernabeu. This is the team's first time in the top flight.
Sunday's loss left the club with 10 points and in 17th place in the 20-team standings, just outside the relegation zone.
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OTHER GAMES
Seventh-placed Athletic Bilbao was held to a 0-0 draw at Espanyol for its third straight game without a win in the league.
Celta Vigo moved to eighth after coming from behind to beat Valencia 2-1 at home. Swedish forward John Guidetti scored Celta's winner in the 77th.