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Hazard gets 1st start in 8 months in Madrid win

Marco Asensio‘s goal earned Real Madrid a 1-0 victory over lowly Getafe in LaLiga on Saturday as they rested key players ahead of their Champions League semifinal against Manchester City.

The win lifted Madrid on to 71 points, two ahead of local rivals Atletico who play at bottom side Elche on Sunday.

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Runaway leaders Barca have 82 points and will get the chance to clinch their 27th LaLiga crown with four games to spare when they face Espanyol on Sunday evening.

“Preparing for these games isn’t so easy,” Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said. “The players were professional although in the first half there wasn’t much intensity. We improved in the second half.”

“Our quality improved [with the substitutes]. And our intensity. We have the good news about [Ferland] Mendy, who is back from a serious injury. He had a good first half… [His substitution] was a precaution, we wanted to give him 45 minutes. He’s available for Wednesday.”

Asensio sealed victory for Madrid in the 70th minute with a curling shot from the edge of the penalty area which deflected off a defender and wrong-footed the goalkeeper before going into the net.

“I’m trying to take the opportunities I’m being given,” Asensio told DAZN. “I’m happy to have matched my best goalscoring tally. It was hard for us but we improved after the goal. It helps us ahead of Wednesday.”

Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga was taken off in the final minutes limping but Ancelotti allayed fears about his fitness for Wednesday.

“He twisted his knee, but it’s just a knock,” he said. “Tomorrow he’ll rest like everyone who played and I hope that on Monday he trains with the team.

“He’ll recover soon for sure. The knee is stable, he has some discomfort now but the important thing is the stability and he has that 100%. He has some discomfort in the knee but it’s nothing.”

There was an end-of-the-season feel on a chilly night at Santiago Bernabeu with Ancelotti making eight changes from the starting side who drew 1-1 with Manchester City in the first leg in Madrid.

The biggest surprise was the inclusion of Eden Hazard, the first time the Belgium midfielder has started since Madrid’s 4-1 home win over Mallorca in September.

Hazard’s fourth start of the season will not live long in the memory as he looked rusty and was substituted in the 61st minute without registering a shot on target.

With Barcelona on the brink of the title and the crucial City game only four days away, slapdash Madrid still dominated proceedings with 77% of possession but recorded only one shot on target until Asensio scored.

Getafe could have scored on a couple of occasions in the second half, but Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made two brilliant saves from efforts by Munir El Haddadi and Juan Iglesias.

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