Varane powers Real to win at hard-nosed Getafe

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MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane made up for the absence of Sergio Ramos by scoring one goal and making another to help his side to a hard-fought 3-0 win at Getafe on Saturday, their first La Liga victory in four matches.

The win takes Real top of the standings on 40 points after 19 games, one ahead of champions Barcelona in second who visit local rivals Espanyol later on Saturday.

France defender Varane forced the opening strike for Real in the 34th minute, out-jumping goalkeeper David Soria to meet a cross from Ferland Mendy which rebounded off the keeper into the net for an own goal.

Varane again showed his aerial prowess to double Real’s lead in the 53rd minute with a towering header from a Toni Kroos free kick, while Luka Modric rounded off the win by tapping a Federico Valverde pass into an empty net deep in added time.

“We knew we’d have to roll up our sleeves against a team who are very strong at home and we did a superb job and deserved the victory,” said defender Dani Carvajal.

“It was a very important victory for us, we came here feeling good about our recent performances although we had only picked up three points out of nine and when you are fighting for the title you have to try and win every game.”

Real were aiming to get back on the right track after drawing three games in a row against Valencia, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao.

They were missing captain Ramos through suspension and were tested to the limits by seventh-placed Getafe at a sold-out Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium and the final scoreline flattered Zinedine Zidane’s side.

Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made two top saves to shut out the home side in the first half, tipping away a thumping drive from Mauro Arambarri when the game was goalless and later thwarting Leandro Cabrera to protect the 1-0 lead.

Real went all out for a third goal in the closing stages of the game and Gareth Bale and Vinicius Jr. both missed clear chances to score before Croatia midfielder Modric finally struck to complete a rapid counterattack.

Bale had launched a pass into the path of Uruguayan youngster Valverde who raced into the area and could have shot himself but opted to selflessly square the ball to Modric who could hardly miss.