MADRID: Real Madrid duo from Brazil, Eder Militao and Casemiro scored in the second half to secure a 2-0 home win over stubborn Osasuna on Saturday (1 May) and keep the pressure on La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.
Defender Militao finally opened up for the visitors by heading from a corner in the 76th minute for his first league goal of the season.
Midfielder Casemiro secured the points four minutes later with an accidental shot when he tried to control Karim Benzema’s through ball and send it into the bottom corner of the net, leaving goalkeeper Sergio Herrera flustered.
The win took second-placed Real to 74 points from 34 games after Atletico moved up to 76 by capitalizing on their luck to win 1-0 at the previous Elche on Saturday. Other title rivals Barcelona and Sevilla will be in action on Sunday and Monday respectively.
Having continued to follow in Atletico’s footsteps, Real will now turn their attention to reaching the Champions League final when they head to Chelsea in Wednesday’s semi-final second leg after a 1-1 draw in the Spanish capital last week.
Coach Zinedine Zidane left midfielders Toni Kroos and Luka Modric on the bench throughout the match and switched to reserve player Antonio Blanco, while bringing in fellow youths Miguel Gutierrez and Sergio Arribas in the second half.
Eden Hazard was Real’s most dangerous player in an impressive first half from the hosts, who had plenty of chances to take the lead.
Visiting goalkeeper Sergio Herrera reacted quickly to block Hazard’s close-range shot and moments later saved Militao’s powerful header over the bar before saving the Brazilian again in the second half.
Osasuna did their best to keep Real at bay while offering little attack even though they had a goal ruled out for offside by Chimy Avila just before halftime.
The visitors also almost took advantage of a backpass by Militao which forced Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to run towards his line and stop the ball.
Substitute Rodrygo almost found the breakthrough as he danced past several Osasuna defenders and chased the net, firing his shot wide of the far post.
It took a set piece for Real to finally take the lead, Militao filled Isco’s corner with poison to make it a third time lucky and Casemiro’s goal soon followed to see Zidane’s side cross the line.