February 21, 2018 / 8:07 PM / 4 months ago

Real rise to third after beating Leganes without Ronaldo

(Reuters) - Real Madrid came from behind to win 3-1 at neighbours Leganes on Wednesday, despite coach Zinedine Zidane resting Cristiano Ronaldo, as they climbed into third place in the Liga standings for the first time since Dec. 2.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Leganes vs Real Madrid - Butarque Municipal Stadium, Leganes, Spain - February 21, 2018 Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos celebrates scoring their third goal from the penalty spot REUTERS/Susana Vera

Leganes defender Unai Bustinaza gave the home side the lead in the sixth minute by cashing in on some slack defending by Real, sliding in at the back post to knock the ball towards goal and then bundling in the rebound after poor goalkeeping from Kiko Casilla.

Spanish winger Lucas Vazquez pulled the champions back into the game five minutes later by latching on to a backheel by Casemiro and arrowing his finish into the far bottom corner.

Vazquez then returned the favour to Brazilian midfielder Casemiro, who finished off a slick passing move to give Real the lead in the 29th, while Real captain Sergio Ramos rounded off the scoring by converting a penalty in stoppage time.

Real, who made one of their worst starts to a season in recent memory, are starting to resemble the ruthless side that swept to the Champions League and Liga titles last season.

This was their fourth consecutive win and their third straight victory after falling behind, following their comeback victories over Paris St Germain and Real Betis.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Leganes vs Real Madrid - Butarque Municipal Stadium, Leganes, Spain - February 21, 2018 Real Madrid’s Casemiro scores their second goal REUTERS/Susana Vera

“It doesn’t matter that we conceded a goal, the important thing is we keep picking up points. This was another victory, the fourth in a row,” Zidane told reporters.

Ronaldo missed his first league game since Sept. 20 as Zidane rotated his side. The Frenchman also rested first choice goalkeeper Keylor Navas and Gareth Bale while he was left without Toni Kroos, Marcelo and Luka Modric due to injury.

The game was originally scheduled for December, but had to be postponed due to Real’s participation in the FIFA Club World Cup.

The win lifts Zidane’s side above Valencia and into third in the standings on 48 points after 24 games, 14 behind leaders Barcelona and seven behind second-placed Atletico Madrid.

“We’ve recovered third place and now our plan is to recover second place,” Zidane added.

“We’re always looking ahead of ourselves, that’s fundamental for us. We want to continue on this good run and keep thinking and looking ahead.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis

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