Alvaro Morata’s hat-trick ended Leganes hopes of a comeback on Wednesday as Real Madrid kept up the pace in La Liga with a 4-2 win.
Keylor Navas, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Casemiro were Madrid’s only regulars that started at Butarque, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos all rested.
Los Blancos catched Leganes cold on the counterattack as Marco Asensio stole the ball, left Martin Mantovani for dead and pulled back for James Rodriguez to finish from close range.
Morata then made it 2-0, the striker doing very well to meet the corner at such a tight angle and loop the header over Iago Herrerin.
Indeed, Zinedine Zidane’s bold team selection proved inspired as Morata was onside when a through ball split Leganes’ central defence and simply poked past Herrerin.
However, the minnows got a goal back when Diego Rico exploited a huge gap behind Danilo down the left wing. Gabriel knocked home the full-back’s cross from close range.
Just two minutes later, Luciano picked up Sergio Ramos’ poor knockdown and tapped in from three yards out.
Iago Herrerin suddenly came to Leganes’ rescue when he denied Lucas Vazquez with a great stop, but the side’s hopes of a comeback were dashed on the stroke of half-time.
James Rodriguez’s free kick dropped straight onto the head of Morata, whose header flew over the Athletic Bilbao loanee for his hat-trick.
Back at the other end, Gabriel’s brilliant dummy teed up an unmarked Alexander Szymanowski in the Madrid box, but the Argentine’s effort went well over in the end.
Nacho was lucky to avoid a red card as his deliberate handball to stop a Leganes break went unpunished, while his chopping-down of Darwin Machis from behind was only worthy of a booking.
Szymanowski drove down the right out of nowhere, beating several Madrid players in his stride, and infiltrated Los Blancos’ box, but his cross-shot soared agonisingly wide of Keylor’s far post.
However, the best moment of the night fell ot Lucas. The winger played keepy-upy with the Leganes defence after latching onto a poor, headed clearance from Herrerin, but the goalkeeper kept out his opponent’s point-blank curler.
Leganes 2-4 Real Madrid
Gabriel 32, Luciano 34 (L) James 15, Morata 18, 23, 48 (RM)
Leganes: Herrerin; Bustinza, Mantovani, Siovas, Diego Rico; Tito (Samu 54), Ruben, Timor, Szymanowski (Machis 84); Gabriel (Bueno 64), Luciano
Real Madrid: Keylor; Danilo, Nacho, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Kovacic (Modric 81), Casemiro, James (Isco 72); Lucas, Morata (Mariano 78), Asensio
Referee: Alvarez Izquierdo