Sergio Ramos wins it late for Real Madrid; Lionel Messi hits brace for Barcelona
Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos again came to his side’s rescue as they snatched a dramatic 3-2 victory over Deportivo La Coruna to keeps them six points clear of Barcelona, who won 3-0 at Osasuna thanks to two second-half strikes from Lionel Messi.football Updated: Dec 11, 2016 14:26 IST
Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos again came to his side’s rescue as they snatched a dramatic 3-2 victory over Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday to keep Zinedine Zidane’s side six points clear at the top of La Liga and set a club record 35 games unbeaten.
Ramos, the scorer of Real’s 90th-minute equaliser last week against Barcelona, headed in Toni Kroos’ corner in the 93rd minute to complete a stunning turnaround after former Real forward Joselu threatened to unravel the unbeaten run.
Joselu struck twice in the space of two minutes to cancel out Alvaro Morata’s stunning second-half strike in the 63rd minute and gave Deportivo a shock 2-1 lead in the 65th by knocking in a low cross from Florin Andone.
Real youngster Mariano Diaz scored his first league goal to level in the 88th and preserve the unbeaten run but yet again Ramos had the final say.
“When you fight until the end things go your way. They penalised our errors but in the end when you work hard you get results,” said Ramos.
“I’m happy that I keep scoring goals and above all we keep completing our objectives.”
Zidane, who rested several players, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, was also without Gareth Bale, who has an ankle injury — only the second time since the Welshman joined that Real have been without any of their famous BBC strike force of Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo for a league game.
The win keeps them top of La Liga on 37 points, six clear of nearest challengers Barcelona, who won 3-0 at Osasuna thanks to two second-half strikes from talisman Lionel Messi and an opener from Luis Suarez.
Midfield maestro Luka Modric was also rested for the game, and Real struggled to control an end-to-end first half, which saw Deportivo’s Celso Borges hit the post and Real’s Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez spurn a glorious chance to put the home side ahead.
Morata opened the scoring with a wonderful curled shot from outside the area but Joselu, his old strike partner in Real’s reserve team, quickly put Deportivo level by capitalising after Casemiro was dispossessed by Andone.
Romanian forward Andone played a vital role in Joselu’s second goal, too, zipping down the right on a counter and cutting the ball back for the striker to knock through the legs of Keylor Navas.
Zidane turned to Dominican forward Mariano from the bench to get his side out of trouble and his gamble paid off when the 23-year-old scrappily knocked in the equaliser off his shoulder.
The unbeaten run was still alive but Real were not satisfied with the draw -- least of all Ramos, who again demonstrated his astonishing heading ability and capacity to save his team’s skin.
Champions Barcelona had put pressure on Real earlier in the day by outplaying Osasuna and picking up a first win in four league games.
Barca missed a slew of chances in a dominant first-half display but their class eventually shone through when Suarez tapped Jordi Alba’s cutback into an empty net in the 52nd minute to break the deadlock.
Messi sealed the points in the 72nd by finishing off another pass from Alba, and in stoppage time the Argentine wizard toyed with the Osasuna defence to grab the third and move ahead of Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo as the league’s top scorer with 11 goals.
“We had a lot of chances and we knew that as soon as we got ahead it would open up. Fortunately, we were able to see out the game,” Suarez told reporters.
“We can’t give up the fight. We’re Barca and we’re title candidates. We won’t give up whether we’re five, six or seven points behind.”
Elsewhere, Valencia’s troubles continued with a 3-2 defeat at Real Sociedad, while Las Palmas drew 1-1 at home to Leganes
First Published: Dec 11, 2016 09:59 IST