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Real Madrid maintain La Liga lead with thrilling win vs. Leganes

Real Madrid regained their position at the top of La Liga but not before being put through their paces by a spirited Leganes in a pulsating 4-2 victory.

Having been overtaken by Barcelona earlier on Wednesday evening following their win against Sevilla, Los Merengues looked to be heading for an easy three points when James Rodriguez and an Alvaro Morata hat trick put them in the driving seat within 23 minutes.

However, two goals in three minutes from Gabriel and Luciano Neves brought Leganes right back into the contest in a pulsating first half, before a Martin Mantovani own goal finally saw Madrid over the line shortly after the interval.

Victory means they are two points clear of Barca at the summit, while Leganes remain just above the bottom three.

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Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane rested star attractions Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale for the fixture at the Butarque Stadium.

However, the visitors still had the first chance after three minutes when Morata worked his way into a promising position before dragging his left-footed shot across the face of goal.

Leganes, unbeaten in four La Liga matches, responded six minutes later with an effort from Luciano which was off target.

Real then took control with three goals in eight minutes.

The first arrived on the quarter hour thanks to a fine solo run from Marco Asensio, who picked up the ball on the halfway line and ran for the area, seeing off two defenders before supplying a cross from the left for a simple tap-in for James.

Morata was unfortunate to clip the edge of a post three minutes later with his low strike from outside of the area, but he did not have to wait long for his first goal of the night when a corner to the near post was flicked on by Nacho and headed home by the forward.

And Morata gave the scoreline even more of a one-sided look after 23 minutes when he benefited from a ball played from behind the defence by Mateo Kovacic to finish into the bottom right corner.

Leganes tried their best to dig themselves out of the hole they were in and Tito had the chance to reduce the deficit in the 29th minute but the defender fired narrowly over the bar.

However, the hosts were very much back in the match soon after thanks to two quick-fire goals.

Diego Rico was the provider of the first after 32 minutes, pounding down the left and playing a pass into the area which took a helpful deflection off a Madrid player to the feet of Gabriel, who slid home from close range.

And another followed just three minutes later when Dimitris Siovas beat Sergio Ramos in the air to a corner and headed on for Luciano to stab the ball in at the left post.

 The half-time interval gave Madrid the chance to recover from the double blow, although their fourth goal early in the second half was something of a gift.

A free kick from the left of the area found the head of Morata but it was Martin Mantovani’s hand which eventually sent the ball over the line though Morata was awarded the hat trick.

The goals then dried up as did the chances, although Leganes were doing their best to reignite their challenge.

Luciano missed the target with his speculative attempt after 71 minutes while a shot across the area from Unai Bustinza dropped just wide of the left post, with Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas looking less than convincing in his efforts to shadow the ball.

Madrid were denied a fifth goal late on by Iago Herrerin, whose initial error paved the way for Lucas Vazquez to outsmart two defenders and make a run at goal, only for his shot for be turned away by the feet of the Leganes goalkeeper.

Credit:@PA SPORTS

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