Late goals from Casemiro and Luka Modric clinched Real Madrid a 2-0 win over Sevilla at a sodden Santiago Bernabeu – a result that lifts Santiago Solari's side above their opponents in the LaLiga table.
Madrid appeared set to endure a frustrating afternoon in the Spanish capital, both Modric, who played over half of the contest with a nasty cut following a clash of heads with Franco Vazquez, and Dani Ceballos denied by the woodwork after the break.
However, Casemiro produced a sensational long-range strike in the 78th minute to help his team secure a 10th straight home league victory over Sevilla, who let slip their loose grasp of third place.
The Brazilian's curling attempt evaded Tomas Vaclik, the visiting goalkeeper only able to paw the ball into the top left corner of his net as Sevilla’s defence was finally breached in the face of a second-half onslaught from their opponents.
A wounded Modric added a second in stoppage time, converting a one-on-one opportunity as he curled his effort beyond the advancing Vaclik.
The European champions had needed an 88th-minute winner from Ceballos against his former club Real Betis last time out in the league and, back in action in front of their own fans, they made a bright start in the pouring rain.
Yet the early optimism faded as the first half wore on, Madrid fortunate Sergio Escudero failed to provide the finish at the end of a swift Sevilla counter, sending his left-footed attempt into the side-netting when confronted by Thibaut Courtois.
The hosts, though, were much improved after the break.
Modric – who swapped a bandage for a much-less obvious plaster after the interval – saw a firm drive from a tight angle deflected onto the post, while Ceballos’ effort from distance was kept out by the crossbar.
Casemiro had better luck when taking aim from outside the penalty area in the 78th minute and, with Sevilla’s resistance finally broken, the outstanding Modric made sure of the result with a calm finish in the closing seconds.
What does it mean? Madrid continue to find a way
Catching leaders Barcelona already looks a tall order for Madrid, but a top-four finish is a must for Solari if he wants to remain in charge. His players are certainly doing their best for him, once again demonstrating their fighting qualities to make it two wins from two since LaLiga's mid-season break.
Modric drives from midfield
The Ballon d'Or winner was influential for his team, despite having to deal with a facial injury. He created four chances as Madrid turned the screw and rounded out an excellent personal performance by finding the net late on.
Escudero fluffs his lines
Sevilla's slump continues - they have not won in the league since December 16 - but the outcome may have been different had Escudero taken the opportunity that came his way in the opening half. The left wing-back made excellent ground to support his team-mates on the counter, only to get his angles wrong with the finish.
Key Opta facts
2 - Real Madrid’s Modric, has scored in back to back LaLiga games for the first time after 284 league appearances. Fire. pic.twitter.com/N3WOWEioX2— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 19, 2019
- Sergio Ramos made his 450 LaLiga appearance (411 for Real Madrid, 39 for Sevilla). Among the current LaLiga players, only Joaquín has made more appearances in the competition (503).
- At Santiago Bernabéu, Real Madrid have won their last 10 league games against Sevilla, their best streak against them in the competition, scoring an average of 3.5 goals per game.
- The last LaLiga win for Sevilla at Santiago Bernabéu was in December 2008 (4-3).
- Sevilla have only collected eight LaLiga points from the last 21 possible after collecting 13 of the previous 18.
- Real Madrid’s Casemiro has scored 16 goals for Real Madrid in all competitions, four of them from outside the box (25%).
- No LaLiga team has kept more home league clean sheets than Real Madrid this season (seven, alongside Atletico Madrid)
Madrid host Girona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last-eight tie on Thursday, while their next league outing is a trip to Espanyol next Sunday. Sevilla have two home games in quick succession, Barcelona the visitors in cup action on Wednesday before they welcome Levante on Saturday.