Zidane returns with win, Athletic Club beat Atletico Madrid
MADRID, March 17– Real Madrid beat Celta Vigo 2-0 on Saturday in Zinedine Zidane’s first game in charge following his return to the club as first team coach earlier in the week.
Zidane made several changes to the side, bringing Keylor Navas back in goal and dropping Thibaut Courtois, while Isco, Marcelo, Marcos Asensio and Gareth Bale all started.
It was far from a vintage Real Madrid display against a rival that traveled to Madrid third from bottom of the table, but goals from Iisco and Bale decided the game in the second half and Zidane showed his man-management skills by replacing them each after their goals so they could enjoy the applause of the fans.
Athletic Club Bilbao all but ended Atletico Madrid’s title hopes with a 2-0 win in San Mames to end a miserable week for Diego Simeone’s side.
Athletic outplayed their rivals, who looked to still be in shock following their 3-0 defeat to Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday, and claimed all three points thanks to a 73rd minute goal from Inaki Williams and a deflected 85th minute shot from Kennan Kodro (his first goal for the club), a minute after Kodro had entered the game to replace Raul Garcia.
Alaves kept their hopes of a top-four finish alive thanks to two late goals from John Guidetti and Jonathan Calleri, which gave them a 3-1 win away to bottom of the table, Huesca.
The game looked to be heading for a 1-1 thanks to a Calleri penalty in the 11th minute, which was cancelled out from the penalty spot by Huesca’s Chimy Aliva three minutes later, but Guidetti’s 80th minute goal put Alaves back in front before Calleri’s second of the game sealed the win six minutes later.
Meanwhile Girona took a big step towards assuring their survival, thanks to two first half goals from Portu, which gave Eusebio Sacristan’s side a 2-0 win away to Leganes.
The round of matches kicked off on Friday with a 1-1 draw between Real Sociedad and Levante and ends on Sunday when FC Barcelona visit Betis knowing they will go 10 points clear at the top of the table if they win. – XINHUA