Modric stunner helps Real Madrid extend lead at LaLiga

Luka Modric of Real Madrid passes the ball during the LaLiga EA Sports match between Real Madrid CF and Sevilla FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on February 25, 2024 in Madrid, Spain. 

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric came off the bench to net a stunning strike from the edge of the box late in the second half to secure a 1-0 home win over Sevilla on Sunday, stretching their lead at the top of LaLiga to eight points ahead of Barcelona, followed by Girona who have a game in hand. 

It was a compelling encounter with Real, who dominated possession in the first half, having an early Lucas Vazquez effort ruled out by video assistant referee (VAR) for a foul in the build-up. But they were often exposed on the counter and Andriy Lunin had to save several times, using his feet as a sweeper keeper.

Sevilla goalkeeper Orjan Nyland was putting up an almost perfect performance until the 38-year-old Modric latched onto a rebound and blasted an unstoppable curling shot that shaved the post on its way into the net after 81 minutes.

He made two outstanding one-handed saves to deny efforts by Vinicius Jr and Federico Valverde, who also hit the post with a close-range strike early in the second half.

Jet-heeled winger Vinicius was a constant menace on the left and forced Nyland to make another brilliant one-handed stop to keep out a curling strike by the Brazilian in the 56th minute.

Real had almost 65 percent possession and 16 goal attempts against four by Sevilla, who were kept on level terms by Nyland's heroics with six superb saves before Modric secured the points.

Sevilla are ranked 15th with 24 points, six points above the relegation zone.

Elsewhere in Europe, third-placed AC Milan continued to lose ground in the Serie A title race as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Atalanta after Teun Koopmeiners' penalty cancelled out Rafael Leao's superb early opener for the hosts.

AC Milan, who last weekend missed the chance to go second when they lost 4-2 at mid-table Monza, are 13 points behinds leaders and city rival Inter Milan, who won 4-0 at Lecce earlier on Sunday and still have a game in hand.

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