MADRID, April 9 – Real Madrid bounced back from their Champions League embarrassment against Wolfsburg in midweek to close to within four points of Barcelona at the top of La Liga with a 4-0 win over Eibar on Saturday.
Atletico Madrid are only three points behind Barca in second after goals from the on-form Fernando Torres, Antoine Griezmann and Koke saw them come from behind to win 3-1 at Espanyol.
Cristiano Ronaldo was one of only three players retained in the Real starting line-up from the 2-0 defeat in Germany and the Portuguese shone with a goal and two assists as Madrid stormed into a 4-0 half-time lead with James Rodriguez, Lucas Vazquez and Jese also on the scoresheet.
Barca are also in action later as they look to win away to Real Sociedad for the first time in seven games stretching back to 2007.
Real coach Zinedine Zidane showed his priority remains turning around their quarter-final tie when Wolfsburg visit the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday as Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Marcelo were left on the bench, whilst Keylor Navas and Luka Modric were rested from the squad.
“I’m happy with the way we played, more in the first half than the second,” said Zidane.
“We know what awaits us and what we are playing for on Tuesday. Now we just have to rest and prepare well.”
Despite the changes, the hosts were always comfortable against the Basque minnows, who now haven’t won in eight games, from the moment Rodriguez smashed home a sumptuous free-kick after just five minutes.
Ronaldo showed he was in a generous mood on 18 minutes when he unselfishly squared for Vazquez to turn home the second.
A typically clinical Madrid counter-attack followed just two minutes later as Jese bore down on goal before teeing up Ronaldo to smash home his 30th La Liga goal of the season and extend his lead to four over Barcelona’s Luis Suarez in the battle to be the league’s top scorer.
The roles were reversed for the fourth just before the break as this time Ronaldo picked out Jese’s unmarked run to the far post to leave the Spanish under-21 international with the simplest of finishes.
Torres was Atletico’s hero turned villain as he scored and was then sent off in the their 2-1 Champions League quarter-final, first leg defeat at Barcelona on Tuesday.
The former Liverpool and Chelsea striker continued to look sharp in front of goal when he crashed a shot against the bar early on.
Torres was involved for the wrong reasons for Espanyol’s opener, though, as Pape Diop escaped his attention to head home at the near post just before the half hour mark.
Atletico responded just seven minutes later when Torres latched onto Koke’s through ball before firing low into the net for this third goal in as many games.
Griezmann completed the comeback when he drilled another Koke assist in off the far post just before the hour mark for his 20th La Liga goal of the season.
Atletico then had a series of chances to kill the game on the counter-attack, but had to wait until two minutes from time for their third when Koke stooped to head home Torres’s cross.