Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale were both rested and Real Madrid hardly broke sweat as they beat Malaga 2-1 here Sunday to climb to third in La Liga.
Isco scored one and set up another at La Rosaleda in a comfortable victory for a much-changed Real side, following Wednesday’s last-gasp Champions League win over Juventus. Diego Rolan grabbed a consolation for Malaga with the last kick of the game but the result was never in doubt.
As well as Bale and Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Raphael Varane were left out by Zinedine Zidane, with the all-important Champions League semifinal against Bayern Munich looming next week.
But Isco did his chances of a start in Germany no harm at all by bending in a free-kick that both Ronaldo and Bale would have been proud of, and then generously teeing up Casemiro when he might easily have finished himself.
Victory means Los Blancos leapfrog Valencia, who were beaten Saturday by Barcelona, but remain four points behind Atletico Madrid in second.
Isco was given a standing ovation from his former club’s fans when he left the pitch for the substitutes’ bench. “He deserved it, he was important for Malaga and now he’s important for Madrid,” Zidane told reporters.
“We played very well, it’s not easy to play against a team like Malaga who don’t deserve to be where they are in the table. We approached the game seriously, we respected our opponents and did a good job,” added the Frenchman.
Malaga, meanwhile, stay bottom and are all-but doomed, sitting 14 points behind 17th-placed Levante, who had earlier been beaten 3-0 by Atletico.
Fernando Torres stole the show at the Wanda Metropolitano, marking the announcement of his Atletico departure with his 100th La Liga goal off the bench. The other goals were scored by Antoine Griezmann, who was also on target. Angel Correa opened the scoring in the first half.