Real Madrid extend lead in LaLiga; Atletico enter top 4

Sports Desk, Feb 26 (EFE).- Real Madrid nipped Rayo Vallecano 1-0 Saturday and are 9 points clear at the top of LaLiga, while defending champions Atletico Madrid beat Celta 2-0 to break into the top four.

The feisty Rayo side gave the Blancos all they could handle and only the heroics of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois kept the game scoreless until Karim Benzema’s winner in the 83rd minute.

The Belgian sparkled on several occasions, including a double-save a seconds before Benzema broke through at the other end.

And though he ultimately conceded, Rayo keeper Luca Zidane – son of former Real Madrid star and coach Zinedine – also turned in a solid performance.

Marco Asensio wasted three great opportunities to put the Blancos on the board in the first half and Casemiro did put the ball in the Rayo net in the 40th minute only to have the goal disallowed because he was offside.

Real Madrid improved to 60 points. Second-place Sevilla have 51 and will host Real Betis on Sunday in the Gran Derbi.

Rayo are 12th on 31 points.

At the Wanda Metropolitano, Renan Lodi’s brace was all Atleti would need against Celta Vigo, who put only two shots on target despite having 64 percent possession.

In a season marked by inconsistency, coach Diego Simeone will have been happy to see his men win a second straight match in the league.

Atletico have a 3-point edge over fifth-place Barcelona, who have two games in hand. Celta remain 10th in the table with 32 points.

EFE apa/dr

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