Real Madrid see off Celta to return to La Liga summit

MADRID: Real Madrid beat an in-form Celta Vigo 2-0 at home on Saturday thanks to a goal and assist apiece from Spanish pair Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio, putting the side above city rivals Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga.

The win took the Spanish champions to the summit on 36 points, one ahead of second-placed Atletico who have three games in hand and on Sunday visit Alaves.

Real were smarting from a surprise 1-1 draw at struggling Elche in their last match and were missing captain Sergio Ramos, who was out with a stomach bug.

But they got off to an ideal start thanks to a towering header from Vazquez, who out-jumped two Celta defenders to power home a cross from Asensio.

Vazquez returned the favour early in the second half to tee up Asensio after Madrid had recovered the ball high in Celta's half. Zinedine Zidane's side comfortably saw out the victory, ending Celta's unbeaten run of six games under new coach Eduardo Coudet.

"We said before the game that after slipping up against Elche we wanted to show our usual aggression and win the ball back high up the pitch," said Vazquez.

"Right now every game is key, we are on a good run, we didn't expect to draw the other day but the team is in good shape and if we keep playing like this we'll be fighting for everything."

Celta had won five of their previous six league games since Argentine Coudet took charge in November after Oscar Garcia was sacked, taking them from the bottom of the standings to within striking distance of the European places.

The trip to Madrid was their biggest test so far and they almost took the lead when talismanic striker Iago Aspas ran through and knocked the ball past keeper Thibaut Courtois but Real defender Nacho recovered to clear it off the line.

Madrid broke immediately with a long ball to Asensio, whose cross was nodded in by Vazquez.

Real nearly doubled their lead when Dani Carvajal tried his luck from outside the box and saw his shot whistle past the post.

Celta had failed to pull off their usual style of intense pressing and they suffered a huge blow when Aspas, La Liga's joint-top scorer with nine goals, was forced off in visible pain with a suspected muscle injury.

Asensio's goal moments later delivered a knockout blow and they later also lost forward Nolito to an injury.