Real Madrid held on for a narrow 2-1 win over Sevilla, as Carlo Ancelotti’s side prepare to face rivals and Liga challengers Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
The European champions were without the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo for the home clash against Unai Emery’s men, with Ancelotti opting for a frontline of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and James Rodriguez.
And it was Rodriguez that gave Real the lead after 12 minutes, finishing a Marcelo cross at the back post with a diving header, but not before Sevilla has passed up a golden opportunity in the first minute, with Victor Vitolo’s shot smothered by Iker Casillas.
Real Madrid doubled their advantage 10 minutes before the interval, with substitute Jese Rodriguez slamming home a finish after good build-up play from Isco and Benzema on the edge of the box.
Injuries to Sergio Ramos and Rodriguez, as well as a suspension for Marcelo, gives Ancelotti plenty to ponder ahead of the clash against Atletico, although Real were made to be thankful for the three points after a late rally from Sevilla.
On loan Liverpool striker Iago Aspas halved the deficit with a close range finish just 10 minutes from time, but despite prolonged pressure the visitors were unable to force an equaliser. Real Madrid now hold a four point lead over Barcelona ahead of Saturday’s clash with Atletico.