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Leagues: La Liga

Modric, Kroos rested as Real Madrid sail past Getafe


Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid kept Chelsea in mind by resting Luka Modric and Toni Kroos but eased past Getafe 2-0 on Saturday to restore their advantage to 12 points at the top of La Liga.

Casemiro’s header and a smart finish by Lucas Vazquez sealed a comfortable victory for Madrid, who can turn their attention back to finishing the job against Chelsea and reaching the Champions League semi-finals.

Atletico Madrid will face Manchester City at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday on the back of a limp defeat after they were beaten 1-0 at Mallorca. Atletico also lost 1-0 to City in the first leg in Manchester last week.

Karim Benzema, the hat-trick hero of Real Madrid’s 3-1 win over Chelsea, started against Getafe but came off in the 74th minute, departing to a standing ovation which felt like the Santiago Bernabeu crowd paying tribute to his performance at Stamford Bridge.

Gareth Bale came on to make only his second La Liga appearance since August and his first at the Bernabeu since February 2020. Madrid had gone 20 home games in between without the Welshman, who was whistled by a section of disgruntled supporters.

Bale’s latest misstep with the Real Madrid fans was to play, and score, for Wales at the end of last month, four days after pulling out of the Clasico defeat by Barcelona through injury.

Bale is likely to be back on the bench again for the visit of Chelsea on Tuesday and, despite another dynamic performance from Eduardo Camavinga, the rested Modric and Kroos will surely return to Carlo Ancelotti’s midfield in midweek. Neither were even needed off the bench.

Real Madrid’s commanding lead in La Liga has afforded Ancelotti the luxury of rotation now around European games.

Barcelona play at Levante on Sunday and have two games in hand but the Catalans are 15 points behind in third.

Any hopes they had that the Clasico might send Madrid into a tail-spin have fizzled, Ancelotti’s side instead responding with two wins in a row.

Benzema had an early goal ruled out for offside but it did not take long for Madrid to break through Getafe, a sumptuous cross from the outside of Vinicius Junior’s right foot finding Casemiro’s head six yards out.

Vazquez’s second came in the 68th minute, as he flicked the ball down the right-hand channel to Rodrygo and kept running, receiving the pass back from Rodrygo and guiding a finish into the far corner.

– Atletico suffer surprise loss –

Atletico Madrid’s run-in could be less comfortable after they were dragged back into the fight for the top four following a surprise defeat by relegation battlers Mallorca.

The loss leaves Diego Simeone’s side just a point in front of Real Betis in the table after Betis had earlier come from behind to beat Cadiz 2-1 thanks to a late penalty from Borja Iglesias.

And at the other end of the table, Mallorca’s victory gives them a major boost in their bid for survival as they climb out of the relegation zone, one point ahead of Cadiz, who slipped to 18th.

A trip to the Balearic Islands between the two Manchester City games was always going to be awkward but even if a degree of fatigue or distraction played its part, Atletico were well below-par.

The result also raises questions over Simeone’s decision to restore Luis Suarez to the starting line-up, even if Mallorca’s goal actually came shortly after Suarez was replaced by the in-form Joao Felix.

The decisive moment came in the 68th minute, after Atletico’s Reinildo Mandava kicked through the back of Mallorca’s Pablo Maffeo from behind and just inside the area.

Vedat Muriqi tucked away the penalty and Atletico had no answer, managing just one shot on target after they failed to muster any against City.

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