MX23RW : Tuesday, February 19 01:37:12
Mar 12, 2017 at 7.45pm UK at ​Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
Real Madrid
2-1
Real Betis
Ronaldo (40'), Ramos (81')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Sanabria (25')
Piccini (78')

Result: Real Madrid return to top of La Liga

Sergio Ramos scores a late winner as Real Madrid return to the top of La Liga with a 2-1 victory over Real Betis at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid have returned to the top of La Liga after recording a 2-1 win over 10-man Real Betis at the Bernabeu on Sunday night.

Antonio Sanabria sent Betis into a 25th-minute lead in the Spanish capital, but Cristiano Ronaldo levelled the scores five minutes before the break, before Sergio Ramos headed Real Madrid's winner late on.

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane made four changes to the team that started against Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday night, with Nacho, Isco, James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata replacing Pepe, Casemiro, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.

As for Betis, Ruben Castro returned to the XI after missing their midweek clash with Deportivo La Coruna, while Sanabria and Dani Ceballos kept their places in the 5-3-2 formation.

Real Madrid's first serious chance of the night arrived in the seventh minute when Morata broke into the Betis box, but instead of shooting, the Spaniard looked for a cross into Ronaldo and the Portuguese fired over the crossbar from a narrow angle.

James was next to try his luck for Real Madrid from distance, but Betis goalkeeper Antonio Adan was on hand to make a smart save, before Isco whistled a powerful strike wide of the post two minutes later.

Betis's first attempt on target followed soon as Castro found a yard of space in a forward position before having a go, but Real Madrid stopper Keylor Navas was on hand to make the stop during an end-to-end period of the match.

There was big controversy in the 22nd minute when Betis midfielder Darko Brasanac broke through into a one-on-one situation with Navas before going down under a late challenge from the Costa Rican international, but the referee was not interested, despite replays indicating that the goalkeeper should have received his marching orders for the last-man challenge.

Navas was then involved in the opening goal of the night three minutes later as the Real Madrid stopper somehow spilled a low strike from Sanabria over the goal-line after initially seeming to deal with the number nine's tame effort.

The response from Real Madrid was strong, however, and the home side levelled the scores five minutes before the interval when Ronaldo headed a Marcelo cross past Adan after being afforded too much space inside the Betis box.

Betis had a half-chance to regain the lead early in the second period when Aissa Mandi met a high ball inside the Real Madrid box, but the centre-back's header was kept out by a smart stop from Navas, who faced whistles from sections of the Bernabeu support after his error in the first half.

The away side had another opportunity in the 59th minute when Ceballos danced past Marcelo before picking out Castro with a low cross, but the experienced striker could only fire his effort into the stands.

It took Real Madrid until the hour to register their first shot on target in the second period, but Luka Modric's long-range strike proved comfortable for Adan, who would have expected to have been busier at the start of the second 45 minutes.

Lucas Vazquez for James was Real Madrid's first change of the night 20 minutes from time, while Benzema joined the action soon after as Morata, who struggled to make his mark, was replaced by the Frenchman.

Ronaldo had the ball in the back of the Betis net for a second time in the 73rd minute, but the offside flag was raised against the Portuguese, despite replays showing that the forward was level with Betis's final line of defence.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 78th minute when Cristiano Piccini was handed a second yellow card for pulling Lucas outside the Betis box, although the wing-back did prevent what might have been a tap-in for Ronaldo at the far post.

Real Madrid continued to press, however, and scored their second in the 81st minute when Ramos headed a Toni Kroos corner past Adan to make it three goals in one week for the centre-back.

Betis managed to put the home side under some pressure in the latter stages and came close to a leveller through a Sanabria header in stoppage time, but Real Madrid held on to secure a vital victory on a weekend where Barcelona and Sevilla both dropped points.

Next up for Zidane's side is a trip to Athletic Bilbao next weekend, while Betis will attempt to return to winning ways when they host basement side Osasuna.

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Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate Real Madrid's third goal during the La Liga match against Almeria on December 12, 2014
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City27212474205465
2Liverpool26205159154465
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs26200654252960
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd26156552351751
5Arsenal26155653371650
6Chelsea26155645291650
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2611693433139
8Watford2610793434037
9Everton2796123639-333
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2696113239-733
11Bournemouth26103133747-1033
12Leicester CityLeicester2695123134-332
13Crystal Palace2676132734-727
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2676132839-1127
15Burnley2676132947-1827
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2667132234-1225
17Cardiff CityCardiff2674152447-2325
18Southampton2659122844-1624
19Fulham2645172558-3317
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2625191448-3411

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