Real Madrid are three points clear at the top of La Liga after Nacho scored the only goal in a 1 – 0 win over Real Valladolid.
With eternal rivals Barcelona slipping to a 2 – 0 loss to Valencia on Saturday, Zidane’s team earned a hard-fought victory over a Valladolid side that came into the game unbeaten in three league matches.
There were few chances at both ends and the points were likely to be shared after Karim Benzema missed from point-blank range with only Jordi Masip to beat. But Nacho arrived in the box to score a crucial header with 12 minutes left and put his side in the driving seat in the title race.
Valladolid’s Joaquin Fernandez was lucky to escape with just a booking after a 10th-minute foul on the youngster Rodrygo. Casemiro scored with Toni Kroos’ free-kick but the goal was ruled offside following a VAR check.
The hosts’ high press forced Los Blancos onto the back foot and Thibaut Courtois made an acrobatic one-handed save to keep Michel’s looping cros-shot from slipping under the crossbar. The Madrid goalkeeper was alert to another testing high ball 10 minutes before half-time when Raul Garcia’s swerving drive from distance whipped across the face of goal, the Belgium international parrying it away from danger.
Rodrygo drew a good save from Valladolid’s keeper early in the second half, and Benzema should have beaten him from close range when he collected Isco’s cross but he fired weakly into the goalie’s hands.
Galacticos remained calm and turned the game in the 78th minute when Kroos collected a poor clearance and floated a cross that Nacho met with a well-struck header into the far corner of Masip’s goal.
Sergi Guardiola scored the equaliser when he fired high into the net from close range but his effort was ruled offside as the points went into the hands of Real Madrid.
Los Blancos will face Zaragoza in the Copa del Rey round of 16 on Wednesday.