Real Madrid 2-1 Leganes: Gareth Bale on target to close gap on second spot
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 28/04/18 10:28pm
Real Madrid survived a valiant second-half effort from Leganes as goals from Gareth Bale and Borja Mayoral were enough to secure a 2-1 win at the Bernabeu.
Zinedine Zidane made 10 changes to the side that beat Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals, but Real moved a point behind second-placed Atletico Madrid despite a below-par display.
Casemiro was the only player to keep his place, and it was Bale who broke the deadlock after just eight minutes, hooking in from close range. Mayoral swept in a second on the stroke of half-time, but Darko Brasanac deservedly reduced the deficit (66).
Unai Bustinza came close to equalising but his shot from an acute angle was superbly saved by Kiko Casilla, before Leganes captain Gabriel was sent off after the full-time whistle for dissent as Real laboured to victory.
Real Madrid: Casilla (7), Theo (5), Vallejo (6), Achraf (6), Casemiro (6), Ceballos (7), Kovacic (7), Llorente (7), Mayoral (7), Bale (7), Benzema (6).
Subs: Kroos (5), Asensio (5).
Leganes: Cuellar (6), Siovas (8), Bustinza (7), Rico (7), Zaldua (7), Gabriel (6), El Zhar (6), Amrabat (7), Ruben Perez (7), Darko (7), Guerrero (5).
Subs: Beavue (6), Eraso (n/a), Naranjo (n/a).
Man of the match: Dimitris Siovas
Leganes will argue that Real's two goals had an element of good fortune about them as Bale was deemed marginally onside when he acrobatically hooked the ball over the line after Karim Benzema's shot was deflected into his path.
The visitors had their moments in the opening 45 minutes as Miguel Angel Guerrero failed to guide the ball into the net on two occasions having made near post runs.
Mayoral came close to scoring before he did find the target as the young striker had a shot cleared off the line by Bustinza before Nordin Amrabat's rising shot clipped the crossbar.
Real duly doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time as a short corner resulted in Mateo Kovacic's ball into the box being flicked on by Bustinza into the path of Mayoral, who made no mistake from a yard out.
Referee Iglesias Villanueva appeared to signal a free-kick for offside before going back on his decision after consultation with his assistants, but Leganes put the setback behind them to dominate the second period.
It was no surprise to see Zinedine Zidane made 10 changes to the Real Madrid side that won 2-1 at Bayern. Munich.
Kiko Casilla started in goal while Jesus Vallejo, Theo Hernandez, Mateo Kovacic , Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema were among the names drafted in. Only Casemiro kept his place.
Leganes made one change to the side that drew 0-0 with struggling Deportivo last time out.Javier Eraso dropped to the substitutes' bench with Darko Brasanac coming in.
Guerrero fluffed another glorious chance from Nabil El Zhar's cross before the visitors deservedly reduced the arrears as the lively Amrabat got to the byline to cross for Brasanac to stroke home with ease.
Asier Garitano's side had the opportunity to complete the turnaround but Casilla clawed Bustinza's effort around the post in the final 15 minutes, and referee Villanueva infuriated the away side once more by blowing the final whistle just as El Zhar was about to shoot in stoppage time.
Captain Gabriel was shown a straight red card for his over-zealous protests, as an under-strength Real held on to all three points.
Man of the match: Dimitris Siovas
Siovas has been one of the bargains of the season for Leganes having arrived for just £2.5million from Olympiacos last summer.
The imposing Greek defender demonstrated the late blossoming in a career that had not seen him move out of his native country until his loan switch to Leganes last season.
The 29-year-old kept Benzema subdued while Real as a team were limited to very few clear-cut chances due to Siovas' resolute defending. Were his team-mates as ruthless down the other end, Leganes would have emerged with at least a point.
Real Madrid host Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-finals second leg on Tuesday before travelling to face Barcelona in the Nou Camp next Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football.
Leganes are back in action at home to Levante on Monday, May 7, also live on Sky Sports Football.