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Morata helps Madrid keep Messi-inspired Barca in check

MADRID - Alvaro Morata scored twice as Real Madrid maintained a two-point lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga by making light of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale's absence in a 4-2 win at Leganes.
Earlier, on Wednesday, Lionel Messi's double on his return from suspension and Luis Suarez's stunning overhead kick helped Barcelona sweep aside Sevilla 3-0.

Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane gambled on the strength of his squad ahead of a mammoth 18 days which sees the European champions welcome Atletico Madrid and Barcelona to the Santiago Bernabeu and also meet old foes Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

However, the Frenchman was rewarded as the likes of Marco Asensio, James Rodriguez and Morata took their chance to shine.

As well as their slender lead, Real also have a game in hand over Barcelona.

Asensio's storming run set up the opener for Rodriguez on 15 minutes as he weaved past three Leganes defenders before squaring for the Colombian to tap home his sixth goal of the season.

Morata's looping header and then calm finish into the top corner from Mateo Kovacic's pass looked to have put Madrid out of sight inside 23 minutes.

Yet, on Real's first ever La Liga visit to Butarque, the hosts had something to celebrate before half-time as Gabriel Pires and Luciano Neves took advantage of some slack Madrid defending to cut the deficit to 3-2 before half-time.

The visitors quickly restored their two-goal cushion just three minutes into the second-half, though, when Leganes captain Martin Mantovani contrived to punch the ball into his own net.

At the Camp Nou, Messi looked rested rather than rusty after being banned for his last two outings for club and country as he took his tally for the season to 43 goals in 41 games.

Sevilla's visit offered boss Jorge Sampaoli a final chance to make his case for the Barca job at the end of the season.

But defeat continues Sevilla's slump and a sixth straight game without a win sees them remain three points behind Atletico Madrid in the battle for third place.

Messi fired an early warning as he blasted a shot off the underside of the bar from outside the area after just three minutes.

Sevilla had two glorious chances to open the scoring as Steven N'Zonzi fired too close to Marc-Andre ter Stegen when clean through before Vitolo headed over when unmarked inside the area.

  • Title: Morata helps Madrid keep Messi-inspired Barca in check
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  • Date: 2:40 PM
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