In the absence of star strikers Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid kept their La Liga title hopes intact after beating Sporting Gijon by 3-2 on Saturday.
Isco was one of the nine changes made by Zidane from the Champions League first-leg in quarter-final line-up that gave Real Madrid a 2-1 win at Bayern Munich. And the Andalusian proved his mettle by taking his side to a six point difference to the trailing rivals Barcelona before they covered the difference back to three points after winning their contest against Real Sociedad later in the night. However Real has the advantage of a game in hand.
Although Sporting Gijon gave early scares to the La Liga leaders, Spanish internationals Isco and Alvaro Morata did not let them have the lead for more than a few minutes. Duje Cop gave Sporting the lead but the talented Isco levelled it within three minutes in the first half.
Isco, who scored the last minute winner, has been part of the transfer rumour mill with his space at Real Madrid in question due to lack of playing time and limited inclusions in the playing eleven as his contract with the club ends at the end of this season.
Two hours later, Lionel Messi struck twice at Camp Nou in the absence of Neymar to help Barcelona stay in the hunt of the La Liga title on Saturday by beating Real Sociedad 3-2.
It was refreshing for the Catalans who returned to winning ways after defeats at the hands of 14th placed Malaga and Juventus in the first leg of the Champions League quarter finals.
Star striker Messi scored a brace in the first half to give his side the lead despite an own goal from Samuel Umtiti few minutes before half time. The Argentinian striker opened with a spectacular shot from 25 yards.
He continued to showcase his stellar skills in the second half as he set up Paco Alcacer, taking the lead to 3-1. Messi is now just two goals away from his 500th for the Spanish club. He scored 45 goals in the last 44 matches.
Meanwhile, Yannick Carrasco scored a brace to help Atletico Madrid defeat Osasuna at the Vicente Calderon.
In the absence of Antoine Griezmann, possibly rested after Madrid derby, Champions League first leg and now the second leg approaching against Leicester City, Atletico kept themselves ahead despite winning two penalties.
After striking from 22 yards in the first half, Carrasco scored a header into a few minutes of the second half. Defender Filipe Luis added a third to further extend their advantage against the bottom placed side.
Atletico stand third on the table at 65 points with a seven points difference to second placed Barca.