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Madrid turn on style to beat Sevilla, increase Liga lead

Just when it seemed Real Madrid might consider dropping points in the title race, the champions calmly moved up a gear to secure a 3-1 win over Sevilla on Saturday and extend their La Liga lead.

Carlo Ancelotti’s unbeaten side moved six points clear of rivals Barcelona, who host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, thanks to two strikes in three minutes from Lucas Vazquez and Fede Valverde in the final stages.

Sevilla thought they might take something from the game when Erik Lamela’s leveller cancelled out Luka Modric’s early strike, but Madrid confidently wrestled control of the match back.

Vinicius Junior, through on goal in the 79th minute, unselfishly squared for substitute Vazquez to roll the ball home and then Valverde continued his own sublime form with a rocket which left Sevilla goalkeeper Bono scrambling helplessly.

“We lost a bit of confidence when we let in the goal, but luckily, the substitutes gave energy to the team and more confidence,” said Ancelotti.

“We scored the second goal with a spectacular counter and a great pass from Vinicius, and from there we were on our way.”

The goals provided a rip-roaring finale to a fine night for Madrid supporters, despite heavy rain. Karim Benzema had offered the Ballon d’Or he won on Monday to the masses at the Santiago Bernabeu before kick-off, handed his trophy by former winners Modric and Zinedine Zidane.

Fans brandished gold sheets laid out for them by the club.

Although they were not able to watch the French striker here, with a thigh problem keeping him out, their team maintained their momentum.

It took Real Madrid just five minutes to open the scoring.

Vinicius was the architect, picking the pocket of Gonzalo Montiel, driving forward deep into the area and then sliding a perfect pass across to split the defence and leave Modric with a simple finish on his 450th appearance for the club.

Returning from a sciatica problem, Thibaut Courtois also presented his Yashin Trophy for being the world’s best goalkeeper to supporters, which was his only task of note until the second half. He soon had another – picking the ball out of the back of the net.

Lamela finished well after being set-up by Montiel, who stole the ball from Vinicius in a reverse of the opening goal.