MADRID (Reuters) -Toni Kroos scored a goal and set up one for Eder Militao as Real Madrid beat second-bottom Cadiz 2-1 on Thursday in their last LaLiga match before the World Cup break.
The champions returned to winning ways after losing 3-2 to Rayo Vallecano on Monday, their first league defeat of the season, and are second in the standings on 35 points, two behind leaders Barcelona.
There was an end-of-the-season feel on a chilly night at Santiago Bernabeu with the World Cup starting in less then two weeks and the game was not a classic.
Cadiz were in ultra defensive mode and Real Madrid struggled to break them down.
Cadiz nearly took a shock lead when defender Alfonso Espino fired a long-range shot that clipped the bar before going over, giving goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois a real scare.
Real opened the scoring in the 40th minute when Kroos delivered a perfect deep cross from a short corner on the left touchline that found Militao who headed into the empty net.
Real controlled the game after the break and Kroos doubled the lead with a powerful strike from a rebound in the 70th minute.
Luka Modric missed a great chance to add a third following a perfect low cross by Vinicius Jr. and Cadiz grabbed a consolation when Courtois failed to hold a long-range strike by Theo Bongonda and Lucas Perez slammed the ball into the net.
Cadiz remained 19th in the standings on 11 points.
“I’m happy to win and help our team to win. We made a good game,” Kroos told DAZN.
“We had chances to score more goals but ended suffering a little in the end because of an unfortunate goal that we conceded late.”
Earlier on Thursday, Gennaro Gattuso’s Valencia beat 10-man Real Betis 3-0 to end their five-game winless streak.
Betis, who could have climbed to third in the standings with a win, are now sixth on 24 points. Valencia are 10th on 19.
It was a tight game under heavy rain in Valencia until Edgar Gonzalez was sent off in the 61st minute following a second booking for a foul on Samu Castillejo.
Two minutes later, Andre Almeida put Valencia ahead with a perfect free kick into the top corner. Hugo Guillamon doubled the lead in the 81st minute from the penalty spot and substitute Justin Kluivert added the third in stoppage time.
(Reporting by Fernando Kallas, editing by Ed Osmond)