MADRID – Real Madrid knocked Barcelona off the top of La Liga by beating Real Sociedad 2-1 on Sunday as Sergio Ramos rolled in another penalty before being forced off due to injury.

Karim Benzema continued his excellent form by adding a second at Anoeta and while Mikel Merino gave Real Sociedad hope with seven minutes left, Madrid held on to go above Barca on head-to-head.

Real Sociedad were contenders for the top four before the three-month suspension but a draw and two defeats since the restart leaves them sixth, five points adrift.

Ramos scored his 20th consecutive spot-kick in the 50th minute to become La Liga’s highest ever scoring defender on 68 goals, overtaking Ronald Koeman on the all-time list.

“He’s the best defender in the world,” said Zinedine Zidane. “What he has been doing and achieving for so many years is incredible.”

But Ramos limped off 10 minutes later with what looked like a knee injury, which will be a huge concern for Madrid if the problem proves serious. He was seen sitting with an ice-pack on his left knee in the stands.

“Right now it hurts a lot but that’s just the bang I think,” said Zidane afterwards. “That’s the good news but we’ll see.”

Madrid also benefitted from two tight decisions after Adnan Januzaj drove in an equaliser for Real Sociedad, only to have it ruled out before Benzema doubled the lead and was adjudged not to have controlled with his arm.

Both calls were close and the fact they fell for Madrid will not have gone unnoticed in Barcelona.

“From what we’ve seen it will be very difficult for Real Madrid to drop points,” said Barca defender Gerard Pique on Friday.

It was Barca’s failure to score at Sevilla that presented the opportunity to Madrid, whose victory in one of their toughest fixtures left has shifted the title race back in their favour.

Their defence, which boasts the club’s best record at this stage in 32 years, has been key.

AFP

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