Real Madrid went top of LaLiga for the first time since October after a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday thanks to goals from Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio.

Vazquez headed Madrid in front six minutes into the game and Asensio added a second after the break with a fine finish.

Celta rarely threatened Thibaut Courtois' goal as their six-game unbeaten run came to an end.

The result helped Zinedine Zidane's side move a point clear of city rivals Atletico Madrid, who will have the chance to return to the summit when they face Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.

Celta almost stole an early lead when Iago Aspas chased a ball behind the defence and chipped an effort over Courtois as he raced off his line, but Nacho chased back to hook it away.

From the resulting counterattack, Madrid went ahead when Asensio broke down the left and his cross picked out Vazquez, who headed in at the back post.

Celta's players claimed for a penalty after Jeison Murillo's volleyed effort struck Ferland Mendy, but the referee dismissed the visitors' appeals.

Madrid went close shortly before the break as Dani Carvajal saw an audacious volley from the edge of the box fly just past the post.

Zidane's side ruthlessly punished some sloppy Celta play soon after half-time, which allowed Vazquez to slide in Asensio to clinically fire past goalkeeper Ruben Blanco.

Fine play by Toni Kroos opened up the Celta defence again on the hour but Madrid captain Karim Benzema lost his footing at the critical moment and flashed his shot past the upright.

Madrid brought on Eden Hazard with 16 minutes left as the Belgian forward continued to build up his match fitness following a long-term injury.

Benzema squandered another late chance when he lifted a shot over the crossbar, while former Los Blancos youngster Miguel Baeza was denied at the death as Madrid saw the game out without conceding.

 

Hector Bellerin and Marco Asensio have been called into Spain's squad for this month's international fixtures as injury replacements.

Arsenal right-back Bellerin earns a first call-up for four years after Sevilla captain Jesus Navas was substituted due to an injury at half-time during his club's 1-0 win over Osasuna.

Luis Enrique's side face a friendly against the Netherlands before Nations League matches against Switzerland and Germany.

Real Madrid attacker Asensio comes into the reckoning in place of Barcelona teenager Ansu Fati.

Like Navas, Fati only managed the first 45 matches of a LaLiga match at the weekend, making way for Lionel Messi in Barcelona's 5-2 triumph over Real Betis.

The Catalan giants later confirmed the forward has suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee, with a decision over treatment options to be made over the coming days.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is backing Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio to "define an era" for Los Blancos.

In the eyes of many, Madrid have regressed as an attacking force in the years since their much-revered 'BBC' triumvirate of Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo was disbanded.

While Benzema has arguably found another level to his game with 45 LaLiga goals since the start of 2018-19, Bale fell out of favour before leaving and Hazard has struggled for form and fitness since essentially being brought in as Ronaldo's replacement last year.

But Hazard made his first appearance of the season in Saturday's 4-1 win over Huesca, scoring for the first time in 392 days, while Asensio is expected to have a big future at the club after recovering from a serious knee injury last term.

While Zidane stopped short of comparing the two trios, he is optimistic the three still at the club can achieve great success in the coming years.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Inter, Zidane said: "The players who are here always want to make history.

"Those three you just said are important and I'm sure they can define an era in Madrid. Those three are important and are going to do important things.

"I know there is talk about us needing to change things in the squad, but what I see inside is that everyone wants to win and compete, and that is very good for the coach, who is me at the moment.

"I enjoy all of my players and we are going to try with everyone to achieve the objectives."

Nevertheless, the Madrid squad has shown evidence of tension of late, with Benzema caught on camera slating team-mate Vinicius Junior to Ferland Mendy in the tunnel during half-time of their previous Champions League outing against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Zidane recently said the pair have spoken and the situation is fine, and Raphael Varane is calling for the team to remain united in the face of uncomfortable reports surrounding the club.

"The Real Madrid dressing room is very close," he said. "We know that there is a lot of pressure here and many things are said outside the club, especially when we lose.

"We have to help each other. We have to be calm with things [coming from] outside the club."

Madrid have failed to win either of their two opening group games for the second season in a row, having previously not done so for 23 years.

Similarly, they are winless in four games in the competition ahead of Inter's visit, their worst run since September 2006.

Leganes were relegated from LaLiga following a 2-2 draw with champions Real Madrid at Estadio Municipal de Butarque on the final day of the season.

Javier Aguirre's side had won three of the four games ahead of the visit of Los Blancos but ultimately fell short of the three points required to overhaul Celta Vigo, who drew 0-0 with Espanyol.

Madrid, who sealed their first title since 2017 with victory over Villarreal on Thursday, went ahead through Sergio Ramos' early header before Bryan Gil equalised for the hosts.

Roger Assale set up a grandstand finish following Marco Asensio's strike shortly after the interval, but Leganes were ultimately unable to find a precious winner, with Madrid surviving a late VAR check for a possible penalty.

Madrid looked lively in the opening stages, Federico Valverde forcing Ivan Cuellar into a superb save with a swerving effort from distance.

Their early dominance was rewarded after nine minutes – an unmarked Sergio Ramos heading home his 11th league goal of the campaign from Isco's free-kick.

Recio and Gil tested Alphonse Areola as the hosts responded well, and Leganes had their reward in stoppage time when Gil opened his account with a neat finish from an acute angle.

Leganes' hopes suffered a blow six minutes after the interval, though, with Asensio slotting past Cuellar after latching onto Isco's sublime pass.

Yet Leganes refused to go down without a fight and they drew level again 12 minutes from time when substitute Assale fired underneath Areola.

Javier Aviles inexplicably lashed wide from eight yards in the closing stages, while a lengthy VAR review into a potential handball from Luka Jovic gave Leganes hope of a dramatic penalty. Nothing was given, though, as their four-year stay in LaLiga ended in agonising circumstances.

Real Madrid moved a significant step nearer to a 34th LaLiga title as Karim Benzema set them on the way to a 2-0 win over Deportivo Alaves.

The gap to Barcelona in second place is back to four points, and it would take a mighty collapse from this position for the teams to swap positions.

Marco Asensio grabbed Madrid's second goal after Benzema's early penalty, and Zinedine Zidane's side could have stretched their lead as a string of chances came their way.

But lowly Alaves contributed plenty to an entertaining game, enough to suggest they can survive in the top flight under their new coach Juan Muniz.

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane said he was "delighted" for Karim Benzema after the star forward surpassed Ferenc Puskas on the club's all-time scorers list.

Benzema scored a brilliant brace to inspire a 3-0 LaLiga win over 10-man Valencia at Madrid Castilla's Alfredo Di Stefano stadium on Thursday.

After opening the scoring just past the hour-mark, Benzema completed the victory in stunning fashion with four minutes remaining – rifling a volley past Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen following Marco Asensio's 74th-mintue effort.

Benzema's two-goal display in the Spanish capital took his tally to 243 goals for Madrid across all competitions, leapfrogging club great Puskas (242) for fifth on the all-time list.

"It was a great goal, for the move and the finish – I'm delighted for Karim's goals," Zidane said after Madrid moved back within two points of leaders and rivals Barcelona.

It was a memorable outing for Asensio, who marked his long-awaited return by scoring with his first touch against Valencia.

Asensio sustained an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last July and returned to the pitch as a 74th-minute substitute on Thursday – the Spaniard's impact immediate.

"This means a lot for him. We're happy to see him back on the pitch," Zidane said. "After so many months out, to come back and score a great goal in his first involvement makes me really happy.

"He was already happy just to get out on to the pitch and then he was able to score straight away, which shows he is already involved."

Eden Hazard also impressed for Madrid – the Belgium star combining with Luka Modric to tee up Benzema for the opening goal in Madrid.

Injury and fitness have hampered Hazard's maiden Madrid campaign, but the former Chelsea attacker showed glimpses of why Los Blancos invested so heavily in the 29-year-old.

"This was a really good game from Hazard," Zidane added. "Physically, he was good and played 80 minutes. Sometimes you might think he's starting to look tired, but then he picks up the ball and sprints away."

Madrid remain within touching distance of Barca with nine matches remaining in the coronavirus-impacted 2019-20 LaLiga season.

On the title race, Zidane said: "We know that it will be like this until the end, but today we can be happy because of what we've done in the game.

"They are the ones fighting; we have to enjoy and congratulate the players because it was a complete game and then think about the next game against Real Sociedad."

Barca will face third-placed Sevilla on Friday and Zidane added: "We depend on what we are going to do, knowing the situation. I'll watch the game, but I don't have the idea in my head that Barcelona will slip up; we have to think about ourselves."

Marco Asensio was delighted his hard work paid off as he made a stunning return from injury in Real Madrid's 3-0 win over Valencia.

Making his comeback from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), Asensio scored seconds after coming on and then set up Karim Benzema's sealer at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on Thursday.

Asensio, 24, was pleased to be back, with the appearance his first competitive club outing since May last year.

"I really wanted to return. It has been many months of hard work," the midfielder told Movistar.

"I am very happy to play, to score and for the team's victory."

On his goal, Asensio added: "A lot of excitement and satisfaction, because there is a lot of work behind this. I am in the final stretch of the season."

Asensio also set up Benzema for the striker to complete his brace, the Frenchman's first touch setting up a spectacular volleyed finish.

Spain international Asensio lauded Benzema, who became Madrid's fifth all-time top goalscorer with 243, surpassing Ferenc Puskas (242).

"It was a great goal. He has made a great control and in general we have made a great match," he said.

Madrid's win saw them climb back to within two points of rivals and leaders Barcelona with nine games left to play.

"We have nine finals left that we have to win," Asensio said.

"We are now focusing on the Real Sociedad match [on Sunday], which is the objective we have in mind."

Marco Asensio marked his long-awaited return by scoring with his first touch and Karim Benzema netted twice as Real Madrid cruised to a 3-0 win over Valencia on Thursday.

The Spain international has not kicked a ball in anger this season after sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury last July and only regained fitness during LaLiga's suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Asensio made up for lost time by showing sublime technique to double Madrid's lead in the second half of the contest at Madrid Castilla's Alfredo Di Stefano stadium.

Karim Benzema had opened the scoring from a wonderful team move just after the hour and rounded things off with a stunning second as Zinedine Zidane's men deservedly earned a win that moves them back to within two points of leaders Barcelona, with Valencia's disappointment compounded by a late red card for Lee Kang-in.

Toni Kroos and Eden Hazard had squandered presentable early chances when teed up by Benzema, the latter shooting straight at Jasper Cillessen when one-on-one.

Rodrigo Moreno almost made Madrid pay but his shot across goal was brilliantly tipped onto the left-hand post by Thibaut Courtois.

Rodrigo slotted home after 21 minutes, only for VAR spot an offside against Maxi Gomez, who deflected Carlos Soler's pass into his team-mate's path.

Both goalkeepers were busy again before the break, Cillessen denying Dani Carvajal after a jinking run and Courtois parrying away Geoffrey Kondogbia's long-range effort.

Madrid were completely in control after the restart, though it took until the 61st minute for the breakthrough to arrive.

Hazard picked up the ball on the left of the area and played a wonderful one-two with Luka Modric before teeing up Benzema, who arrowed his strike into the bottom-left corner.

Modric, who grew in influence after a quiet first half, brought the best out of Cillessen again with a long-range drive but there was nothing the keeper could about Asensio's goal.

Ferland Mendy fired a cross in from the left and Asensio sensationally guided home a first-time volley into the right-hand side of the goal.

Not to be outdone, Benzema put the cherry atop the cake with a delightful effort, lifting the ball over Hugo Guillamon before rifling a volley past a helpless Cillessen, with Valencia's misery compounded when Lee was sent off late on for kicking Sergio Ramos.

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is planning to "take it slowly" with Marco Asensio, but said the midfielder would have a role to play this season.

Asensio was an unused substitute as Madrid returned to action with a 3-1 LaLiga victory over Eibar on Sunday.

The 24-year-old suffered a serious knee injury in pre-season but is now available for Madrid, who moved back within two points of rivals and league leaders Barcelona.

Zidane has no plans to rush Asensio, but said he would be using the Spain international.

"We're happy to have Marco back available and we'll take it slowly," he said.

"We have lots of players, Asensio is in good shape and I'm going to use him. I wasn't able to today, but there are other games to come and he has to be ready just like any other player.

"I'll be counting on him."

Madrid are in action again with a clash against Valencia on Thursday.

Zinedine Zidane is thrilled to have Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio fully fit again following significant injury lay-offs, but he could not guarantee Luka Jovic will recover before the end of the season.

Hazard and Asensio have both had miserable seasons, with the Belgium international enduring a continued battle with fitness problems, while the Spaniard is yet to make an appearance after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in a pre-season friendly.

Hazard suffered an ankle fracture in November, ruling him out for almost three months, and he then cracked his fibula shortly after returning.

Had the season not have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the former Chelsea star – who joined Madrid in a reported €100million deal last year – would have been expected to be out for at least another eight weeks.

But, as Madrid prepare to return to action at home to Eibar on Sunday, Zidane confirmed both Hazard and Asensio are available once again, potentially a significant boost as Los Blancos attempt to chase down pacesetters Barcelona, who go to Real Mallorca later on Saturday with a two-point lead.

"The good thing is they had the same time to prepare as the rest of the team," Zidane told reporters on Saturday.

"Asensio's injury was a bit more serious and required longer rehabilitation, but both are available, they'll be there for the team to help us and it's good news to have them back."

Zidane was again asked about Hazard's condition and the Frenchman affirmed the winger is completely recovered, though Jovic may not return anytime soon.

The Serbian forward broke his foot in May and Zidane was unable to guarantee he would be able to play again in what has been a disappointing first season at the Santiago Bernabeu for the former Eintracht Frankfurt star.

"On Hazard, I'm happy he's back and fully fit, he has re-joined the group and he can play and help us. The bad news is Jovic's injury," he said.

"He injured himself at home. It was unfortunate, obviously, because now it will keep him away from the pitch.

"We don't know for how long for, but we'll see. It's bad news of course – we hope he is back as soon as possible and before the season is over."

One of the new temporary measures brought in for the end of the season following the enforced hiatus is a substitutions increase from three to five.

Critics have suggested this will benefit the bigger clubs with deeper squads, though Zidane does not see it making a major difference to anyone.

"I don't think anyone will benefit immensely," he added. "It's a different rule, we have to adapt to it and if we have five substitutes then we'll adapt to that.

"As I say, I have 23 players available and I'll try to adapt to it. The circumstances are strange and obviously we have to take that into account, but we adapt to whatever we need to adapt to. We're ready for everything."

Marco Asensio feels "very good" after recovering from a knee injury as he prepares to play his part for Real Madrid in LaLiga's title run-in.

Spain international Asensio is yet to feature this term after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament and lateral meniscus in his left knee in pre-season.

The 24-year-old underwent successful surgery in August but has only now returned to training with the campaign paused amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Asensio, who played 44 times in 2018-19, is delighted to be back.

"I feel very good," he told Realmadrid TV. "The first week was different when I returned to training, being with my team-mates.

"My adaptation has been good. The knee is responding well and the truth is that I am physically very well.

"The wait has been very long. I have worked a lot and, above all, I have had a lot of patience, because seeing your colleagues train every day while being in the physiotherapy room was something that hurt me a lot.

"I am already with my colleagues in the field and that is the important thing. The wait was worth it."

Asensio's attentions can now turn to matters on the field, with Madrid two points behind rivals Barcelona in the table with 11 matches to play.

Los Blancos must also overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit against Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League.

"We really want LaLiga to start and to face those games that decide a title," Asensio said. "We know that they are life-or-death matches.

"Every game we have to face it to the fullest, and we are going to try to win everything we have left."

Real Madrid's Marco Asensio won the LaLiga FIFA 20 charity challenge, helping raise funds for the fight against coronavirus.

While COVID-19 pandemic has forced sports to stop around the world, LaLiga continued to go ahead over the weekend, albeit virtually.

A single player was invited by Spanish video game streamer Ibai Llanos to represent their team in a 20-club FIFA 20 tournament.

Asensio – who has been sidelined for the entire 2019-20 season due to a serious knee injury – swapped the pitch for PlayStation.

The 24-year-old Spain international's time away from the football ground paid dividends after beating Leganes' Aitor Ruibal 4-2 in Sunday's final.

Over €140,000 was also raised, with all proceeds going to UNICEF as the world struggles to contain the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed more than 14,500 lives.

"It has been a spectacular tournament," Asensio wrote via Twitter. "The goal was to have a good time, laugh, entertain ourselves in these difficult times for everyone, and donate in the fight against COVID-19. And we have succeeded.

"Congratulations @IbaiLlanos and all who have made it possible."

Zinedine Zidane defended Gareth Bale's performance against Celta Vigo, yet the Wales forward has not been included in Real Madrid's squad for the trip to Levante.

Bale started and played 84 minutes on Sunday, as Madrid were held to a 2-2 home draw by Celta, who equalised late on through Santi Mina.

"I think Bale played a good game and we have to keep thinking that there's a long way to go and we have to think about what we all do on the pitch to improve it," Zidane said in the wake of the draw.

However, Bale will not get the chance to continue in Madrid's XI this week after he was left out of the squad for the clash with Levante.

The 30-year-old has reportedly been struggling with a stomach bug, which meant he was unable to train on Wednesday.

Striker Luka Jovic has also missed out – with the Serbia international reportedly suffering from the same issue – while Rodrygo and Nacho do not feature in the 19-man squad.

Eden Hazard, who made his comeback from injury against Celta, is included.

Madrid have been boosted by the return to non-contact training of Marco Asensio, who has missed the entirety of the season due to a knee ligament injury.

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