Cape Town - Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale were both rested and Real Madrid
hardly broke sweat as they beat Malaga 2-1 on 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
After scoring his first Real goal in nine appearances against his former
club, Isco held his hands up apologetically, and he enjoyed a warm
reception from the Malaga fans when substituted in the second half.
Victory means Los Blancos leapfrog Valencia, who were beaten by
Barcelona on Saturday, but remain four points behind Atletico Madrid in
Malaga, meanwhile, stay bottom and are all-but doomed, sitting 14 points
behind 17th-placed Levante, who had earlier been beaten 3-0 by
Fernando Torres stole the show at the Wanda Metropolitano, marking the
announcement of his Atletico departure with his 100th La Liga goal off
Six days after confirming he will be leaving his boyhood club at the end
of the season, Torres rolled back the years with a volleyed finish,
reminiscent of the 34-year-old in his prime.
"Fernando is an icon here," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.
"Whether he is scoring goals or not, winning titles or not, he has a
place in the club that has been earned by respect, hard work and having
an identity with the club. That will not change because of one more
Torres' grievance this term has been a lack of playing time and he was a
substitute again, replacing Antoine Griezmann, who was also on target.
Angel Correa opened the scoring in the first half.
A comfortable victory cuts the gap behind leaders Barcelona back to 11
points and restores some momentum for Atletico, with their Europa League
semifinal against Arsenal less than a fortnight away.
The result also guarantees Simeone's side a place in the Champions League for a sixth consecutive season.
"Barcelona's season is tremendous," Simeone said. "We will try to get
closer to them and if we can't get closer, we will congratulate them."
Atletico now face Real Sociedad on Thursday and Real Betis on Sunday
before the Europa League leg at Emirates Stadium but they arrived here
with only two wins from their last five matches.
Torres enjoyed the biggest cheer of the afternoon and followed his
brilliant finish by blowing the crowd a kiss and waving both hands. It
promises to be a long farewell.
The Spaniard is unlikely to face Arsenal but Griezmann almost certainly will and his goal was his 19th in La Liga this season.
It came without his partner Diego Costa, who was still nursing a thigh strain.