Isco’s first LaLiga free-kick and a Casemiro tap-in earned Champions League semi-finalists Real Madrid a 2-1 win at Malaga on Sunday, nudging the Spaniard’s former side closer towards relegation.
Zinedine Zidane left stars including Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale out of his squad after Madrid survived a dramatic fightback by Juventus in midweek, with Marcelo and Toni Kroos named on the bench.
But despite the changes made by the Frenchman, Madrid eased to a fifth consecutive away victory in all competitions thanks to a sublime showing from the increasingly influential Isco.
A fine free-kick from the playmaker that curled away from Roberto Jimenez was the 25th set-piece goal scored by Madrid, more than any LaLiga club this season, giving Zidane’s men a first-half lead.
Isco then teed up Casemiro to slot home the decisive second after the break for the visitors, who won the title on their visit to La Rosaleda last season, Madrid moving above Valencia into third place in the table despite Diego Rolan’s 93rd-minute consolation.
Malaga had opportunities to rescue an unlikely draw before Casemiro’s goal, Manuel Iturra guilty of wasting a fine one-on-one chance, but Madrid closed out victory to leave Jose Gonzalez’s men – 14 points adrift of safety with six games to go – on the brink of dropping out of the top flight.