Sevilla’s visit to the Bernabeu was supposed to be a tough examination for Real Madrid as they bid for their first title in five years, but it was passed with flying colours as Zinedine Zidane’s men close in on Barcelona’s crown.
Los Blancos may still be locked at the top of the table on 87 points with Barca but Luis Enrique’s men just have one game left now. Madrid play Celta on Wednesday and Malaga on Sunday but they don’t even need to win both games, four points will do it, and it’s difficult to see them slipping up now.
Nacho bags controversial opener
Zinedine Zidane made five changes for the game but such is the strength of this squad that it made little difference. However, there was more than a whiff of controversy about the hosts’ opener, and they will surely still be fuming about it in Barcelona.
While there was no doubting Marco Asensio was fouled outside the box, there was certainly huge doubt over whether Sevilla were ready for the kick. Indeed the players were clearly still trying to organise themselves, with the referee facing the other way, when Nacho’s free kick hit the back of the net on 10 minutes.
Quick-thinking from the defender unquestionably, although the debate over whether the referee was correct to allow the goal to stand will rage for some time and Sevilla protested long and hard but to no avail.
Madrid will not care, however, and only needed another 10 minutes to double their lead. Again Asensio was heavily involved in the build-up, before James Rodriguez’s shot was only parried by Sergio Rico allowing Cristiano Ronaldo to tap home from close range.
Ronaldo hits yet another Real landmark
It was the Portuguese’s 400th goal in 391 appearances in Real Madrid colours, he has 10 in his last seven, although Sevilla, missing key players through injury, still had enough about them to worry los Blancos.
Stevan Jovetic managed to hit the post and clip the bar in the first half and ought to have scored five minutes before the break after a lovely one-two saw him burst through on goal only to be denied by a fine save from Keylor Navas.
Jovetic didn’t have long to wait, however, for the goal he deserved with Sevilla grabbing one back just minutes after the interval.
The visitors worked the ball beautifully too, Vitolo swapping passes with Steven N’Zonzi before finding Jovetic who this time beat Navas with a superb finish.
The goal unnerved Madrid and Zidane opted to make changes Casemiro, Lucas Vazquez and even Luka Modric all arriving in the second half as Sevilla continued to threaten and the Bernabeu whistled nervously, all too aware Barcelona were winning at Las Palmas.
However, if there was one man who could settle Madrid’s nerves it was Ronaldo who duly obliged on 77 minutes. Toni Kroos cutting it back to the Portuguese who smashed it home at the near post.
Kroos then added a fourth late on, guiding home Nacho’s cross as Real Madrid finished strongly to move them one step closer to the title.
Real Madrid: Navas 8; Danilo 6, Varane 6, Ramos 6, Nacho 8; Kovacic 6 (Modric 7), Kroos 8.5, Asensio 8; Rodríguez 6 (Casemiro 6), Morata 5 (Vazquez 6), Ronaldo 9.
Unused subs: Casilla, Benzema, Coentrão, Isco.
Sevilla: Sergio Rico 6; Lenglet 6, Pareja 5 (Montoya 6), Carrico 6; Vitolo 7, Krohn-Delhi 6.5, Kranevitter 6, N’Zonzi 7, Mercado 6; Jovetic 8, Correa 6.
Subs: Soria, Mena, Vietto, Ben Yedder, González.
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco
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