Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Rodrygo brace helps Real Madrid beat Bilbao 2-0

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MADRID, April 1: Rodrygo thrived in the absence of Vinícius Júnior as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0 to keep an eight-point lead over Barcelona in the Spanish league.
Rodrygo scored both goals and Madrid maintained its comfortable lead at the top after Barcelona had won 1-0 at Las Palmas on Saturday.
Vinícius didn’t play because of a suspension over yellow cards, but Jude Bellingham was back in the squad after missing two straight league games because of a red-card suspension. The influential England international set up Rodrygo’s second goal in Madrid’s third straight league win.
Rodrygo’s opener came with a beautiful shot into the top corner from just outside the area eight minutes into the match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
The Brazilian said after the match he is not feeling threatened by the possible arrival of Kylian Mbappé.
Fourth-place Athletic arrived with its focus on next weekend’s Copa del Rey final against Mallorca. The Basque Country club will try to win the cup for the first time in four decades. Defender Yeray Álvarez left Sunday’s game with an apparent muscle injury in the 25th and could be doubtful for the final in Seville.Also back in Madrid’s squad was central defender Éder Militão, who had been out for eight months because of a knee injury. He came off the bench in stoppage time to loud cheers from the Bernabeu crowd.
Brahim Díaz, who was in for Vinícius, nearly added to Madrid’s lead in the 49th with a shot that hit the post.Tuesday’s “One Skin” friendly between Brazil and Spain at the Bernabeu, which ended 3-3, was set up after Vinícius was targeted by racial insults in a league match nearly a year ago.
Sunday’s league games came a day after the match between Getafe and Sevilla was marred by more racist insults against Sevilla player Marcos Acuña and Sevilla coach Quique Sánchez Flores.
STUANI LEADS GIRONA
Cristhian Stuani scored in stoppage time as Girona beat Real Betis 3-2 to move closer to securing a top-four finish.
The home win strengthened Girona’s hold on third place. It’s nine points ahead of fourth-place Athletic and 10 points in front of fifth-place Atletico Madrid, the first team outside the Champions League qualification places.
Girona visits Atletico next weekend in a key matchup with eight rounds remaining.
The Catalan club, which is part of the Abu Dhabi-backed City Football Group, is trying to make it to the Champions League for the first time.
Girona twice relinquished leads against seventh-place Betis, but earned the victory thanks to Stuani’s goal from inside the area two minutes into second-half stoppage time in pouring rain at Montilivi Stadium.
Artem Dovbyk scored the other two goals for the hosts, while Willian José got on the board twice for Betis, which saw its losing streak reach four straight league matches. Manuel Pellegrini’s team has one win in its last eight games in all competitions.
RELEGATION FIGHT
Celta Vigo and Rayo Vallecano drew 0-0 in Vigo in a match between relegation-threatened clubs.
The result left Celta in 17th place, immediately behind Rayo.
Celta sits three points clear of the relegation zone, while Rayo is five points from danger. Rayo has one win in 12 matches.
SOCIEDAD WINS AGAIN
Sixth-place Real Sociedad picked up its third straight victory by winning 1-0 at 13th-place Alaves.Jon Pacheco scored the winner with a diving header in the 59th.
Alaves has one win in its last eight league matches. (PTI)

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