efe-epaMadrid

Isco and Gareth Bale scored a goal apiece to give Real Madrid a 2-0 victory Saturday over Celta Vigo in the first match of Zinedine Zidane's second stint as head coach of the Spanish-league powerhouse.

Zidane, who enjoyed a wildly successful initial tenure as manager of the Blancos from 2016 to 2018, leading them to three consecutive Champions League titles and a La Liga crown, has taken the helm of the club once again toward the end of a highly disappointing 2018-2019 season.

In his return, the French former playing great called upon the squad's "old guard," inserting goalie Keylor Navas, left-back Marcelo, Isco and Bale into his starting XI.

That quartet of players had seen limited action under Zidane's predecessor, Santiago Solari, who was fired after the team had lost four of six games and was eliminated from both the Champions League (by Ajax) and the Copa del Rey (by arch-rival Barcelona).

All four rewarded Zidane's trust in Matchday 28 of 38 action on Saturday, with Isco and Bale finding the back of the net, Marcelo assisting on the second goal and Navas keeping a clean sheet.

Celta, by contrast, was snake-bitten from the outset, as left-back David Junca sustained an early injury and was replaced by Dutch defender Wesley Hoedt just four minutes into the match.

In attack, striker Maximiliano Gomez's recent slump continued, although he did connect on a header at the quarter-hour mark that forced Navas to make an outstanding leg save.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, only mustered sporadic scoring opportunities in the first half on individual efforts by Toni Kroos, Bale and Sergio Ramos.

After a scoreless first 45 minutes, Madrid nearly got on the board in the 56th minute but the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system annulled an apparent goal by Luka Modric, ruling that defender Raphael Varane had obstructed the goalie's view from an offside position.

But six minutes later Karim Benzema received a through pass from Marco Asensio and set up a sliding Isco for the opener inside the six-yard box.

That close-range strike was Isco's last touch before being replaced by Dani Ceballos.

Marcelo then sent a low cross from the left side in minute 77 to Bale, who got just enough on a right-footed shot from the center of the box to score into the bottom left corner.

Real Madrid (54 points) are currently in third place in La Liga. Although they can fully focus on this last remaining competition, they are nine points behind league-leading Barcelona, who have a game in hand.

Celta Vigo (25 points), meanwhile, are in third-to-last place in La Liga and in danger of being one of the three teams relegated to Spain's second division at season's end.