Malaga (Spain), April 16 (IANS) Real Madrid clawed their way back into the third place in the La Liga standings after downing Malaga 2-1 in an away match in which attacking midfielder Isco Alarcon, a Malaga native, scored for the visitors.
Malaga on Sunday had made several changes in their starting 11, incorporating Uruguay’s Federico Ricca in defence and including midfielder Adrian Gonzalez and Nigerian forward Brown Ideye. The Madrid squad was without stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Raphael Varane, Marcelo and Luka Modric but was able to count on Mateo Kovacic, Casemiro, Jesus Vallejo, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio, reports Efe.
Malaga exerted barely any pressure at all early on and Real Madrid took control of the match, with French centre-forward Benzema leading the way at the La Rosaleda Stadium.
After several scoring chances that came to nought, at the 28th minute it was Isco firing a fabulous free-kick that made it past the diving goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez for the first goal.
Zinedine Zidane’s boys only needed to play at half-speed against the timid and nervous Malaga, and the visitors got Casemiro in position, after being set up by Isco, to make it 2-0 in the 62nd minute.
Just seconds before the final whistle it was Diego Rolan who sneaked in a shot for Malaga’s consolation goal on a mistake by Vallejo.
With the win, Real Madrid are now in third with 67 points — two points ahead of Valencia, who lost 1-2 to league leaders FC Barcelona on Saturday.
But Malaga, 20th in the league with 17 points, could be relegated to the lower league on Thursday if they lose against Levante.
Meanwhile, Uruguay’s Damian Suarez notched a 1-0 win for Getafe against Espanyol at the Alfonso Perez Coliseum before some 11,000 spectators.
The right winger seemed to be the only player able to emerge from the prevailing lethargy affecting both sides, firing an impressive blast from 35 meters that made it by Espanyol goalkeeper Pau Lopez. It was the first tally of his 104-game career with the squad.
Both Getafe and Espanyol find themselves near the bottom of the La Liga standings in the 32nd week of play, and — before Sunday’s match – neither squad had won a match in their last five outings.
With the win, Getafe are barely maintaining their First Division hopes for next season.