Real Madrid beat Valladolid to go top of La Liga table

Nacho Fernandez of Real Madrid (C) scores his team's first goal during the Liga match between Real Valladolid CF and Real Madrid CF at Jose Zorrilla on January 26, 2020 in Valladolid, Spain.

Real Madrid went top of La Liga on Sunday night with Nacho heading in Toni Kroos’ perfect cross with 12 minutes left to seal the 1-0 victory over Real Valladolid.

The reserve central defender was given a rare start at right-back because Dani Carvajal was suspended and Alvaro Odriozola has been loaned to Bayern Munich.

His goal puts Madrid three points ahead of Barcelona, who were beaten 2-0 by Valencia on Saturday and 10 points ahead of Atletico Madrid, who they face in the derby next week. 

Nacho ran to Zinedine Zidane to celebrate the strike in another show of support for a coach who was under pressure at the start of the season but is now leading the team playing like champions elect. 

Zidane still has Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale unavailable in attack and he had surprised people leaving Vinicius back in Madrid. 

But at the moment every team he picks delivers for him - Madrid have gone 19 games unbeaten in all competitions.

Nacho applied the finish touch but it was Kroos who delivered the cross. His full repertoire of passing had been on display at Zorrilla and one of his free-kicks had almost led to Real Madrid taking the lead in the first half.

It was 12 minutes into the game when Real Madrid thought they had taken the lead and it would have been Casemiro’s third goal in two games. He headed Kroos’ free-kick past Masip but VAR ruled the goal out because he was offside.

Thibaut Courtios tipped Michel’s in-swinging corner out from under his bar in what was Valladolid’s best chance in an even first half.

Masip saved well at the start of the second half turning away Rodrigo’s shot. And Real Madrid found it hard to break down the team lying just two places off the bottom three until Nacho glanced his header past Masip from Kroos’ precise delivery.

Valladolid almost responded immediately but Ferland Mendy blocked Sergio Guardiola’s shot. And it was Nacho who headed away Valladolid’s last ditch attempt. 

From the corner Guardiola got in front of Kroos inside the six-yard box but he was offside as he hooked the ball past Courtois.

“It’s not easy to go to any team in this league,” said Sergio Ramos. “It’s good have the lead now even though the season is long and we know there’s a long way to go.”

Asked about his team-mate Nacho he added: “Everyone has to be ready even those who are not playing as much. We are all fighting for the same thing.”
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