Real Madrid 2
MADRID • Left-back Marcelo came to Real Madrid's rescue yesterday to secure a 2-1 win over Valencia, provisionally taking Zinedine Zidane's side three points clear at the top of LaLiga, moments after they had conceded a potentially devastating equaliser.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal in five league games to put Real ahead in the 27th minute, but in the second half had a penalty saved by Diego Alves, who turned away a league-record sixth spot-kick of the campaign.
Incredibly, the miss was Ronaldo's third in four career penalty attempts against the Valencia No. 1.
Valencia pulled level in the 82nd minute with a thumping free-kick from Dani Parejo, the former Real academy player who had fouled Luka Modric for Ronaldo's missed penalty.
Parejo swung in a right-footer that curled past Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Marcelo quickly restored Real's lead, however, by cutting inside from the left of the area, and curling the ball under Alves with his weaker right foot, keeping Real on course for a first title since 2012.
Real top the standings on 81 points after 34 games although champions Barcelona, who have also played 34 matches, could take their place at the summit due to their superior head-to-head record if they beat local rivals Espanyol this morning (Singapore time).
Real return to action on Tuesday when they host city rivals Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals.
Granada's run of six consecutive seasons in LaLiga ended following a 2-1 defeat at Real Sociedad, leaving Tony Adams' side 10 points adrift of safety with three games left.
They join basement club Osasuna in the Segunda Division next season.