AAP Soccer

Real Madrid win Zidane’s La Liga return

By AAP Newswire

It was like old times at the Santiago Bernabeu with Zinedine Zidane back on the bench as coach and Real Madrid winning again.

Zidane brought the old guard back and began his second stint as Madrid coach with a 2-0 win against relegation-threatened Celta Vigo in Spain's La Liga.

Francisco "Isco" Alarcon, who had been sidelined by former coach Santiago Solari, and Gareth Bale, often a reserve before Zidane's return, scored to help Madrid end a four-game losing streak at home.

Marco Asensio, another player who had few chances under Solari, set up Isco's goal while goalkeeper Keylor Navas, back in the starting line-up, made key saves for Madrid.

Zidane's revamped starting XI also included Marcelo, another player who had succeeded under the French coach but did not play often for Solari.

"Nobody can erase what these players have done for this club in the past," Zidane said.

"I'll count on the entire squad but we know how good Keylor is.

"I don't even have to talk about Marcelo, and it's the same when it comes to Isco.

"They are all very good players. They have shown it in the past and I will keep counting on them."

The win moved Madrid within two points of second-place Atletico Madrid, whose title chances took a hit after a 2-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao left them seven points adrift of Barcelona.

Isco netted from close range in the 62nd minute and Bale sealed victory with a shot from inside the area in the 77th.

Celta have slumped to third bottom and in the drop zone.

In Bilbao, Inaki Williams put Athletic ahead in the 73rd and Kenan Kodro netted in the 85th against Atletico to move them up to ninth.

"We missed a chance to move closer to Barcelona but it was going to be hard after our poor performance in Turin," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.

Fifth-placed Alaves moved closer to the final Champions League spot with a 3-1 win at last-place Huesca.

Argentine striker Jonathan Calleri scored twice and Swedish forward John Guidetti added another for Alaves, who are unbeaten in six games.

Forward Portu scored two first-half goals to lead Girona to a 2-0 win at Leganes.