Dani Ceballos fired a La Liga debut double to ease pressure on boss Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid edged out Alaves 2-1.
Former Betis midfielder Ceballos capped his league debut for Real with a smart first-half brace that set Zidane’s men back to winning ways.
The 21-year-old was reported to have been frustrated to remain an unused replacement as Real bombed out 1-0 to his former club Betis on Wednesday night.
But at Mendizorroza Ceballos set any moans aside to put Real back on track in their title defence, despite Manu Garcia’s fierce headed equaliser and substitute Alfonso Pedraza twice hitting the post for the hosts.
Zidane defended Real’s piecemeal start to the new league campaign by joking that one win in four games had left his tenure “jinxed,” before reasserting himself as the club’s “shining star.”
Real might have prevailed on the road but were far from restored to their glittering best.
Point-less Alaves ended their five-game goal drought thanks to Garcia’s bullet header, and grafted throughout to make Real work for their win.
The visiting side were on the front foot throughout the opening 20 minutes, but needed an Aday own-goal for their opener, the Girona defender deflecting Jordi Alba’s shot from outside the penalty area into his own net.
Goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz was the star for the hosts in the first half, denying Aleix Vidal from very close range just past the half-hour mark before tipping an Ivan Rakitic shot wide of the post minutes later.
Barca’s second came soon after the break and it was self-inflicted by Girona again when Iraizoz deflected a Vidal back-heel into his net after Luis Suarez had neatly dummied the ball between his legs in front of goal.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen produced a fine save to keep the margin at two goals minutes later, palming down a close-range header from Michael Olunga at the back post before it crossed the line.
Sergi Roberto teed up Suarez for Barca’s third with a perfectly weighted ball over the top of the Girona defence, which the Uruguay international settled with his first touch then fired home past Iraizoz with his second to make it 3-0.
Ernesto Valverde’s men saw out the match with ease from their, meaning they now lead second-placed Atletico Madrid by four points, third-placed Sevilla by five and Real Madrid by seven.
Diego Costa watched Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 win over Sevilla from the stands following his return to the capital club from Chelsea.
Atletico’s transfer ban means Costa cannot take the field until January, but he could at least revel in the club’s form on Saturday.
Yannick Carrasco set Atletico en route to a third straight La Liga win, breaking the deadlock after a goalless first half.
Carrasco rounded Sergio Rico before tucking in to hand the hosts the advantage, then Antoine Griezmann doubled the advantage.
The France poacher was played in by Filipe Luis before firing across Rico and home to settle the argument and leave Atletico with two wins from two in their new Wanda Metropolitano stadium.
Diego Rolan’s late strike salvaged 10-man Malaga a 3-3 draw with Athletic Bilbao.
Bilbao led 3-1 after 70 minutes thanks to Inaki Williams’ brace and a fourth-minute penalty from Aritz Aduriz.
Rolan claimed the first of his double after 35 minutes to keep Malaga in touch, but the hosts had Zdravko Kuzmanovic sent off early in the second half.
Malaga shrugged off the setback however, with Paul Baysse and Rolan completing the comeback late on.
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