Marco Asensio scores Real Madrid's opener against Getafe in the La Liga clash on Saturday
Barcelona (AFP) - Real Madrid warmed up for their decisive Champions League semi-final visit to face Manchester City with a 1-0 win over Getafe on Saturday in La Liga.
The champions’ slim victory ensured leaders Barcelona must beat city rivals Espanyol on Sunday in Cornella to be able to clinch the title this weekend.
Marco Asensio broke the deadlock in the 70th minute with a deflected strike from distance, in a game of few chances.
Madrid’s win saw them climb provisionally second above Atletico Madrid, 11 points behind Barcelona.
Carlo Ancelotti rotated heavily to keep his key players fresh ahead of the second leg battle with Pep Guardiola’s City, following the 1-1 draw last Tuesday in Madrid.
Ancelotti lined up with just three of the side that started the first leg – goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde.
Camavinga limped off in the final stages with knee pain sustained in a clash with Juan Iglesias.
Ancelotti said the French midfielder would not take long to recover.
“He twisted his knee a bit, it’s a blow, nothing more, he will recover very quickly,” Ancelotti told reporters.
“Tomorrow he will rest like the others who played today and I think from Monday he will train with the team, he doesn’t have a problem.”
Ancelotti added: “The knee is stable, it hurts him a bit now, but the important thing is stability and he has that, 100 per cent.”
The most excitement Madrid supporters had in the first half was the team presenting the Copa del Rey trophy they won last weekend in Seville to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Beyond that the opening period was devoid of action at either end, with Belgian forward Eden Hazard looking unsurprisingly flat on his first league start since September.
A forgotten man at Madrid since his failed move from Chelsea in 2019, the 32-year-old winger showed no signs of life.
Ancelotti, disgruntled by his team’s lacklustre display, brought on midfielder Toni Kroos for Ferland Mendy at half-time, moving Camavinga to left-back. Vinicius Junior and Luka Modric soon followed.
- Breakthrough -
Real Madrid's Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior (C) came on in the second half and helped Madrid triumph
Courtois produced a fine save to deny Iglesias from distance as Getafe hunted for points vital for their survival hopes.
However Asensio sent Madrid ahead with 20 minutes remaining when his shot from 20 yards deflected off Nemanja Maksimovic and past the helpless David Soria.
“I’m trying to take advantage of the chances the coach gives me,” Asensio told DAZN.
“We knew that it would be a tough game against a team that is strong defensively.”
Asensio almost doubled his tally with a header from Kroos’ fine cross but Soria pulled off an impressive save to deny him.
The defeat leaves Jose Bordalas’ Getafe 18th, in the relegation zone, level on points with Valencia, 17th, who visit Celta Vigo on Sunday.
- Submarine rising -
Earlier Villarreal romped to a 5-1 win over Athletic Bilbao to cut the gap on fourth-place Real Sociedad to five points.
Girona held La Real to a 2-2 draw earlier on, giving Villarreal a sliver of hope that they can usurp the Basque side in the race for Champions League qualification.
Quique Setien’s Yellow Submarine took full advantage with an emphatic victory over Athletic, eighth, inspired by Senegalese forward Nicolas Jackson.
The in-form 21-year-old netted a brace to take his tally to six goals in his last four games. Alex Baena also scored twice and Aitor Paredes put through his own net to deepen Athletic’s misery.
Imanol Alguacil’s Real Sociedad took a commanding two-goal lead on Girona through a Mikel Oyarzabal penalty and veteran playmaker David Silva.
However the Catalan visitors fought back to leave the game level, with Yan Couto and Cristhian Stuani scoring before the break.
“The way the team’s played in the final phase of the season is keeping me calm,” said Alguacil.
“There are no easy games, but with the team playing how it is, we have to be optimistic.”
Real Sociedad visit La Liga leaders Barcelona next weekend and must also travel to Atletico Madrid in their last four fixtures.