Real Madrid breathed new life into their stuttering season as they secured a vital 2-0 LaLiga victory at home to Sevilla.
Having wasted multiple goalscoring chances they were on course to drop further points, and leave their manager Santiago Solari under increasing pressure, until Casemiro brilliantly curled in from long range in the 78th minute and Luka Modric added a late second.
While they are still to truly join the title race led by Barcelona, the three points earned maintain the pressure on cross-city rivals Atletico Madrid, who are second, and also take them three points clear of Sevilla, who fall to fourth.
Even in the absence of the injured Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio, Solari kept the talented Isco among his substitutes, but was rewarded with an encouraging start in which Karim Benzema often threatened.
With Sevilla defending in numbers and content to attack only on the counter, the hosts were dominant in possession and while they regularly attacked, struggled to create the clear chance they perhaps required to take the lead.
It was on the stroke of half-time when Vinicius perhaps captured their efforts when shooting well and with power from 30 yards, but watching the visitors’ goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik routinely save.
The second half began similarly, with Real playing with intent amid Sevilla’s willingness to allow them possession, and Vinicius soon bending over from a tight angle.
Modric began to adopt increasingly attacking positions and exert greater influence on play, and as he sent a dipping effort into the side netting near the hour mark the opening goal began to feel imminent.
Applying increasing pressure, Vinicius sent a chip narrowly over and Dani Ceballos beat Vaclik but struck the crossbar from 30 yards.
Lucas Vazquez was then replaced by Isco, and shortly after his introduction Brazil’s Casemiro impressively gave them the lead.
These teams had last drawn a fixture between them in 1993, and when Casemiro collected possession in space in midfield, he looked towards goal before brilliantly curling, with power, into the top right corner and beyond Vaclik’s reach.
Victory already appeared almost inevitable, with Sevilla having so little time to respond having fought only not to concede, and they continued to offer minimal attacking intent.
Isco had a sight on goal when winning a free-kick and curling over, before Modric ended any remaining doubt of the three points in stoppage time.
In similar space to Casemiro after being played into the area, the Croatian drew Vaclik before casually curling past him and high inside the near right post.
Their form has remained inconsistent, but in defeating potential rivals they have a chance to build momentum for the second half of the season and the imminent return of the Champions League.
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