Brazilian duo Eder Militao and Casemiro scored from Real Madrid in the second half to secure a 2-0 home win over stubborn Osasuna on Saturday and remain extremely difficult for La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.
Defender Militau finally won the away defense with a header from a corner kick in the 76th minute, scoring his first goal in the league this season.
Midfielder Casemiro made sure to score four minutes after a cross shot when he tried to control a pass from Karim Benzema and sent it into the bottom corner of the net, confusing goalkeeper Sergio Herrera.
The win brought second-placed Real to 74 points from 34 games after Atletico advanced to 76 points by beating Elche 1-0 earlier on Saturday. Their rivals Barcelona and Seville play their competitions on Sunday and Monday respectively.
“It was a hard-won victory. Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said:” Our opponents defended very well and we had to keep trying until the end, and we had to be patient. “
“I am very happy with the players. When your team plays well and has five chances like in the first half, it is easy to get frustrated. But we were patient and we continued to play well.” Staying in the wake of Atletico, Real will now turn their attention to reaching the Champions League final when they head to Chelsea in the semi-final second leg on Wednesday after a 1-1 draw in the Spanish capital last week.
They may have to do without the experience of center-back Rafael Varane, who was knocked out in the first half with a suspected muscle injury.
Zidane left midfielders Toni Kroos and Luka Modric on the bench throughout the match and switched to reserve team player Antonio Blanco, while young teammates Miguel Gutierrez and Sergio Arriba brought in in the second half.
Eden Hazard was the most dangerous player for Real in the wonderful first half of the hosts, who had a large number of opportunities to advance.
Osasuna goalkeeper Sergio Herrera responded quickly to block a close shot from Hazard and moments later sent Militao’s header over the crossbar before the Brazilian repelled again later in the second half.
The visitors did their best to keep Real in trouble while doing little in the attack despite their goal being canceled due to offside by Chimi Avila before the break of the first half.
Osasuna also nearly benefited from a back pass that overtook Militão, forcing Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to run towards his line and stop the ball.
Substitute Rodrigo almost scored a breakthrough as he danced past visiting defenders, shooting and striking his shot off the post.
Real needed a set-kick to finally take the lead, and Militao met Isco’s corner kick with poison to make her lucky for the third time and soon followed Casemiro’s lucky goal to see the hosts above the goal line.
Zidane added: “We faced a lot of difficulties, but today we got three more points and we will continue fighting until the end.”
“We know we can win (La Liga and the Champions League). I will not say that we are going to win them, but we will do everything we can to try.”