Routine win keeps Real Madrid pressure on Barcelona

Kieran CANNING
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Real Madrid's Brazilian defender Marcelo celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Spanish league football match against Eibar at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on October 22, 2017

Real Madrid moved back to within five points of La Liga leaders Barcelona with a hassle free 3-0 victory over Eibar on Sunday.

Madrid have struggled at the Santiago Bernabeu this season, dropping points in four of their previous six home games.

However, Eibar did most of the damage for them as Paulo Oliveira's own goal and a goalkeeping mistake from Marko Dmitrovic to allow Marco Asensio's shot through his grasp handed the European champions a 2-0 half-time lead.

Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to pick up FIFA's 'The Best' award in London for his goals in helping Real land a Champions League and La Liga double for the first time in 59 years earlier in the year.

Yet, the Portuguese's off colour La Liga form this season continued as it was Asensio who shone as his partner up front with Karim Benzema rested.

"It is obviouly better when Cristiano scores, but I am not worried," said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

"The season is very long and if he is top scorer in the Champions League then bit-by-bit (his form) will return in La Liga."

Asensio teed up Isco inside two minutes only for Dmitrovic to parry the Spanish international's tame effort.

Real's defending in the first period left a lot to be desired, but Eibar showed why they have only managed to score three times all season as their final ball continually let them down in dangerous areas.

And the visitors didn't help themselves at the back either when Oliveira flicked a header into his own net from another Asensio delivery.

Asensio then scored his first goal in two months with a low strike from Isco's cut-back that Dmitrovic should have stopped.

Those two combined once more for Real's first chance of the second period, but again Isco placed his finish too close to Dmitrovic.

Zidane had the luxury of bringing Benzema and Marcelo off the bench.

And they combined to round off the scoring as Marcelo drilled the Frenchman's pass into the bottom corner eight minutes from time.

- Gameiro rescues goal-shy Atletico -

Victory moves Real back above city rivals Atletico Madrid into third after Los Rojiblancos ground out a 1-0 win at Celta Vigo earlier on Sunday.

Atletico's attacking options while they wait for Diego Costa's return in January have been much criticised in recent weeks, particularly after a 0-0 draw at Azerbaijani champions Qarabag on Wednesday left their chances of reaching the Champions League last 16 in peril.

However, on his first league start of the season, Kevin Gameiro fired home a loose ball from a corner from close range on 28 minutes for the only goal of the game.

"I've come through a difficult time," Gameiro, who missed the start of the season through injury, told BeIN Sports Spain.

"Now that I am able to play, I can help the team and score goals."

Despite the sparse crowd at Balaidos caused by the closure of a stand on security grounds, Celta swarmed forward after the break.

Jan Oblak produced fine saves to deny Iago Aspas and in stoppage time from John Guidetti, while Aspas also clipped the bar with a free-kick.

Villarreal's revival under new coach Javier Calleja continued with a 4-0 thrashing of Las Palmas.

Second-half strikes from Cedric Bakambu, Mario Gaspar and Nicola Sansone added to Ximo Navarro's own goal helped move the Yellow Submarine up to sixth.

And Leganes sit fifth after Claudio Beauvue scored the only goal to beat off-form Athletic Bilbao 1-0.