Madrid: Real Madrid quietened crisis talk after back-to-back defeats as Marco Asensio added to his collection of wonder strikes in a 3-0 victory over Las Palmas at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Victory cuts third-placed Real’s deficit on Barcelona at the top of La Liga back to eight points.
However, it was another off night for Madrid’s strikers as Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema were held scoreless as Casemiro, Isco and 21-year-old Asensio provided the killer touch.
“They are the first ones that aren’t happy,” said Real boss Zinedine Zidane of Ronaldo and Benzema’s goal droughts.
“The important thing is the work that they do and the chances we create.
“Today Isco, Asensio and Casemiro scored and soon Cristiano and Karim will. We need to remain calm.”
Benzema has been fiercely criticised for his role as Real lost to promoted Girona last weekend and at Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League on Wednesday.
And the level of discontent with the Frenchman was in evidence as he was jeered by the home faithful inside the first five minutes when he failed to slot past Raul Lizoain after being played clean through on goal by Ronaldo.
Both Ronaldo and Benzema have only one La Liga goal each to their name so far this season and it was the World Player of the Year who had Real’s next three efforts as he blasted into the side-netting, curled a shot just wide and then placed a header from close range too close to Lizoain.
“We know that Cristiano is happier when he scores,” added Zidane.
“We are all convinced that (at the end of the season) he is the one that will make the difference.”
Madrid had to wait until four minutes before half-time to break the deadlock when Casemiro grabbed Real’s first headed goal of the season from a corner.
A fifth straight league defeat since he took charge leaves Las Palmas coach and former Valencia boss Pako Ayestaran’s job already in doubt with a two-week international break to come.
The visitors had a penalty shout early in the second-half, but on-loan Atletico Madrid winger Vitolo went to ground too easily despite a slight pull of his shirt by Casemiro.
A booking would have ruled Casemiro out of the Madrid derby against Atletico in two weeks’ time and he was quickly replaced after Asensio secured the three points in stunning fashion.
Asensio has made a habit of netting in spectacular fashion in his first 18 months at Madrid and pounced on a loose ball 30 yards from goal to rifle a shot that rose all the way on its trajectory into the top corner.
Ronaldo fired inches over twice more, but, whilst his luck remained out in front of goal, he did provide an enticing cross from which Isco slotted home at the back post for Madrid’s third.
Elsewhere, Villarreal’s unbeaten league run since Javier Calleja took charge in September continued as Nicola Sansone came off the bench to grab both goals in a 2-0 win over Malaga to move the Yellow Submarine up to fifth.
Real Sociedad were also comfortable 3-1 winners over Eibar. However, their Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao’s slump show no signs of abating as they conceded three times in the opening 26 minutes to lose 3-1 at Celta Vigo with Iago Aspas netting twice for the hosts.
Athletic have now won just once in their last eight La Liga games with Jose Angel Ziganda struggling to follow in the footsteps of Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde. — AFP