Real Madrid moves within a point of Atletico in La Liga
LAS PALMAS, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid overcame the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo to defeat Las Palmas 3-0 and move within a point of second-place Atletico Madrid in the Spanish league on Saturday.
With Ronaldo rested for Tuesday’s visit to Juventus in the Champions League quarterfinals, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema took over to give the defending league champions a comfortable win in the Canary Islands.
Bale opened the scoring in the 26th minute after a long throughball by Luka Modric, making a run from near the midfield line before entering the area and finding the top corner with a powerful left-footed shot.
Benzema added to the lead by converting a 39th-minute penalty kick after Lucas Vazquez was fouled inside the area, and Bale netted his second goal by converting another penalty kick early in the second half after he was brought down inside the box.
“It’s an important victory going into the game against Juventus,” Vazquez said. “We are going through a good moment.”
In addition to Ronaldo, coach Zinedine Zidane also rested defender Sergio Ramos, midfielder Francisco “Isco” Alarcon, left back Marcelo, and midfielder Toni Kroos.
Defender Nacho Fernandez had to be replaced in the first half because of an apparent muscle injury in his right leg.
Madrid is out of contention for the Spanish league title but Ronaldo remains in the race for top scorer with 22, four less than Lionel Messi, who scored in Barcelona’s 2-2 draw at Sevilla.
Las Palmas stayed in 18th place, seven points behind Levante, the first team outside the relegation zone.
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