Real Madrid beat Alaves 2-1 to go top of La Liga ahead of Barcelona’s visit to Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
The game was played in rain so torrential that the referee’s headset was waterlogged and stopped working in the second period but Madrid weathered the storm to pick up a huge win in their bid to win back the Spanish title.
Real Madrid took the lead when Sergio Ramos headed in a Toni Kroos free-kick on 52 minutes.
Kroos’ delivery was such a gift for the grateful Ramos that he ran to the German midfielder to simulate shinning his boots as part of his goal celebration.
Alaves beat Real Madrid 1-0 last season and they played their best football after going behind.
Scotland winger Oliver Burke came on and with a run and cross down the right he helped provoke the penalty that got them back into it.
Ramos caught Joselu with a flailing arm and the referee pointed to the spot.
Former Arsenal and West Ham forward Lucas Perez stepped up.
With a short run-up cracked his penalty pass Alphonse Areola playing in goal ahead of Thibaut Courtois.
Perez celebrated by donning a mask in front of jubilant home fans.
Aleix Vidal celebrated by doing the ‘sleeve-cut’ insult in front of Ramos and picked up a booking.
Madrid responded well with Luka Modric crossing from the right. Isco was the unlikely recipient getting above the usually solid Alaves defense to head on to the post. When the ball bounced back out there was another unusual suspect – Dani Carvajal – to send the ball over the line.
Madrid were left hanging on at the end. Alaves forced five corners and from one Areola had to save on the line from Manu Garcia’s header.
Ferland Mendy came on to help contain Burke and eight minutes were added on as the rain continued to come down.
The referee’s replacement headset and VAR connection was holding up and so was Real Madrid’s defence. They saw out time and go top of La Liga.
They are tougher than they were last season, even without the injured pair Eden Hazard and Raphael Varane they had too much for Alaves.
Marcelo admitted after the victory: "Teams give everything against us but you win the league winning matches like this."
"We battled against the opposition, against the cold, and we came out on top. We knew how hard it would be today."