Soccer-Tchouameni gives depleted Real Madrid narrow win at Mallorca

Soccer Football - LaLiga - RCD Mallorca v Real Madrid - Son Moix, Palma de Mallorca, Spain - April 13, 2024 Real Madrid's Aurelien Tchouameni celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Albert Gea

(Reuters) -Aurelien Tchouameni struck early in the second half to give Real Madrid a 1-0 win at Mallorca in LaLiga on Saturday as they rested key players ahead of their Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City.

Real dominated proceedings and Tchouameni scored in the 48th minute with a thunderous shot from way outside the penalty area that beat lunging keeper Predrag Rajkovic.

The win lifted Real to 78 points, 11 ahead of bitter rivals Barcelona, whom they host in an "El Clasico" match at the Santiago Bernabeu next weekend.

Barca have a game in hand and will play at relegation threatened Cadiz later on Saturday. They are two points ahead third-placed Girona, who lost 3-1 at Atletico Madrid.

Copa del Rey runners-up Mallorca are 15th in the LaLiga standings on 31 points, six clear of the relegation zone.

Ahead of the Champions League return leg at Manchester on Wednesday, manager Carlo Ancelotti made five changes to the starting line-up who were held 3-3 by City in the first-leg on Tuesday.

He used Saturday's match at Mallorca not only to rest key players such as Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo and Toni Kroos, but also to hand starts to Nacho and Antonio Ruediger. Tchouameni is suspended for the City clash.

Nacho and Ruediger looked solid against Mallorca in a match Real should have won by a bigger margin.

Jude Bellingham had the best chance in a dour first half when his shot bounced off the crossbar.

After Tchouameni scored, Real wasted several chances to extend their lead, which included Brahim Diaz missing a sitter from close range.

"The team has been very solid and very reliable, we haven't always played well but the team has always fought and competed," Ancelotti told a press conference.

"It was important to keep our advantage ahead of the Clasico (next Sunday). Winning here is always complicated."

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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