MADRID: Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal scored second-half goals as Real Madrid beat Alavés 2-1 to take the Spanish league lead on Saturday.
Madrid has a three-point lead over Barcelona, which visits fourth-place Atlético Madrid on Sunday.
Real Madrid and Barcelona have a game in hand because their “clásico” match from October was postponed until Dec. 18 because of a separatist rally in the Catalan capital. It was the third straight league win for Madrid, which is unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions.
Ramos scored with a header off a set piece taken by Toni Kroos in the 52nd minute, then committed the foul leading to a penalty kick for Alaves, which was converted by Lucas Pérez in the 65th. Carvajal netted the winner from close range five minutes later off the rebound of a header by Francisco “Isco” Alarcón that hit the post.
Alavés was coming off two straight league wins — against Valladolid and Eibar — and stayed 13th. It has only won three of its 29 league matches against Madrid.
Madrid has lost only one of its last seven away league matches, at Mallorca last month in the team’s last defeat in all competitions.
It was coming off a 2-2 draw at Paris Saint-Germain in the group stage of the Champions League.
Coach Zinedine Zidane opted to start against Alavés without Thibaut Courtois, who made a mistake in the first PSG goal on Tuesday.
He was replaced by Alphonse Areola, whose key second-half saves secured three points for Madrid under heavy rain at the Mendizorroza Stadium.
Madrid was also without Eden Hazard, who picked up a bruise in the match against PSG.
Isco started in his place, alongside Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema up front.