Real on track; Granada relegated

Real on track; Granada relegated

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Real Madrid players celebrate their side's second goal against Valencia during their Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid Saturday. — AP
Real Madrid players celebrate their side's second goal against Valencia during their Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid Saturday. — AP

BARCELONA — Marcelo came to Real Madrid’s rescue to secure a 2-1 win over Valencia, provisionally taking Zinedine Zidane’s side three points clear at the top of La Liga, moments after it had conceded a potentially crucial equalizer.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal in five league games to put Real ahead in the 27th minute but in the second half had a penalty saved by Diego Alves, who turned away a league-record sixth spot kick of the campaign.

Valencia pulled level in the 82nd minute with a thumping free kick from Dani Parejo, the former Real academy player who had fouled Luka Modric for the penalty.

Marcelo quickly restored Real’s lead, however, by cutting inside from the left-hand side of the area and curling the ball under Alves with his weaker right foot, keeping Real on course for a first title since 2012.

Real tops the standings on 81 points after 34 games although champion Barcelona, which has also played 34, could take their place at the summit due to its superior head-to-head record if it beats local rival Espanyol later Saturday.

Granada’s run of six consecutive seasons in La Liga ended following a 2-1 defeat at Real Sociedad, leaving Tony Adams’s side 10 points adrift of safety with three games left. It joins basement club Osasuna in the Segunda Division next season.

Mbappe on target

An electrifying display by teenage striker Kylian Mbappe allowed Monaco to come back from a goal down to secure a 3-1 victory at home to Toulouse and go three points clear at the top of Ligue 1 Saturday.

The win put Monaco, which faces Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal Wednesday, top with 83 points from 34 games, three ahead of Paris Saint-Germain in second and nine ahead of third-placed Nice.

Toulouse striker Ola Toivonen gave his side a shock lead just after the break, jolting the 18-year-old Mbappe into life as he created a slew of chances for his side in the second half.

Monaco defender Kamil Glik headed home a cleverly-worked corner to equalize before Mbappe added a superb second goal, smashing a low, first-time shot in at the near post, and he went on to torment the Toulouse defense before being substituted late on.

Winger Thomas Lemar netted his eighth league goal of the season to put his side 3-1 up, half-volleying home Nabil Dirar’s beautiful, chipped cross 15 minutes from time, and Monaco had plenty of chances to increase their lead even further.

PSG, which thrashed a second-string Monaco side 5-0 in the French Cup in the week, travels to Nice Sunday. — Agencies

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