Bale's brace powers Real to victory
With Karim Benzema out injured and Cristiano Ronaldo playing below expectations again, Gareth Bale came through and got the job done for Real Madrid.
Bale scored a pair of goals just before half-time to lead Madrid to a 3-0 win over Leganes yesterday, securing the Spanish league lead for his team ahead of the city derby against Atletico Madrid.
Alvaro Morata, replacing Benzema in the starting line-up, sealed Madrid's fourth straight victory with a second-half goal at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Madrid reached 27 points, two more than second-placed Barcelona, which defeated Sevilla 2-1 yesterday. Atletico, which lost 2-0 at Real Sociedad on Saturday, are
currently third with 21 points from 11 matches.
Madrid, unbeaten this season, play against Atletico at the Vicente Calderon on November 19, following the international break.
"I'm pleased with the work everyone put in, not any player in particular," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "There will always be one who makes the difference, but the great thing today was the team."
Bale dominated the action from the start and was Madrid's most dangerous forward throughout the match and his first goal came just as the crowd was growing impatient with the team's lacklustre play.
After a perfect long pass by Francisco "Isco" Alarcon in the 38th minute, Bale calmly found the net after his first attempt was stopped by the goalkeeper.
Bale's second came in first-half injury time after a free kick cross into the area. The ball was deflected towards Bale and he easily scored from just in front of the goal line.
Bale also had two great scoring chances early in the second half, first with a close-range shot and then with a header, both requiring difficult saves by Leganes goalkeeper Jon Ander Serantes.
Benzema was sidelined because of a knee ailment, and replacement Morata got Madrid's third goal from inside the area after a pass by Toni Kroos in the 76th.
Zidane brought back midfielder Luka Modric, who entered the match in the 62nd after being sidelined for almost a month following a surgical procedure on his knee.
It was the fourth consecutive loss for Leganes, who were making their first-division debut at the Bernabeu. This is the team's first time in the top-flight.
Seventh-placed Athletic Bilbao were held to a 0-0 draw at Espanyol for their third straight game without a win in the league.
Celta Vigo moved to eighth after coming from behind to beat Valencia 2-1 at home. Swedish forward John Guidetti scored Celta's winner in the 77th.