Spanish giants Real Madrid CF moved to the top of the La Liga table after steering three points clear of FC Barcelona. They won 1-0 against Real Valladolid at Estadio Jose Zorrilla on Sunday night. Barcelona handed them the lead after losing 2-0 to Valencia the previous evening.
A late strike from Nacho in the 78th minute ensured that Los Blancos would emerge as the table leaders. Before that, the hosts maintained a deadlock courtesy of a disciplined defensive display. Real Valladolid had the opportunity to salvage a draw towards the end. However, Sergi Guardiola's goal was denied because of an offside.
In the first half, Madrid midfielder Casemiro's attempt was also denied by VAR. In the end, Zinedine Zidane's men successfully extended their unbeaten run to 12 games.
The Madrid side, as usual, maintained superior ball possession and played 619 passes among their players, as compared to a mere 366 passes played by the hosts.
Both sides started with solid intent. Valladolid was fortunate as Joaquin was shown only a yellow card after a two-footed challenge on Rodrygo. Had he been shown a red one, the home side would have been reduced to 10 men just 10 minutes into the game.
In the 13th minute, Madrid thought they had taken the lead when Casemiro netted the ball through Toni Kroos' free-kick. However, VAR interrupted the celebrations and the goal was disallowed as the Brazilian was found to have been in an offside position.
Soon after, Real's Thibaut Courtois hooked clear a dangerous looking corner from Valladolid's Michel.
Although Los Blancos are now the league leaders, their manager called for improvements in his side's finishing abilities. Zidane praised Real's defence after they rejected Valladolid from registering even a single goal. However, he said that more creativity is required to make sure that Real's struggling opponents could be beaten more convincingly in the future.
Zizou said, "Defensively, what we are doing, we are doing well. It is our strength. We defend all and when we lose the ball we recover it very high, and if we keep it we have a good chance of scoring. Nacho is a professional. When he has to compete he does well. I'm glad for his goal; he doesn't usually score them but from time-to-time, we can also create chances for defenders."
Real Madrid now has 46 points in 21 games. Barcelona is second in the table with 43 points from the same number of matches.