Federico Valverde said Real Madrid must set out to win all their games in the battle for LaLiga glory against bitter rivals Barcelona after edging Real Sociedad.

Madrid leapfrogged defending champions Barca atop the table via a superior head-to-head record thanks to Sunday's 2-1 victory at Sociedad.

Goals from captain Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema led Madrid to the top of the table with eight matches remaining following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Madrid midfielder Valverde said: "I'm very happy to go top and to beat such a tough opponent.

"We were the better team for the large part of the game. La Real are a tough opponent who know what to do.

"This win has to serve as motivation for us for what is to come.

"We have to go out to win all our games and we have to continue like this."

Zinedine Zidane's Madrid, who have won all three of their LaLiga games since the league restarted earlier this month amid the COVID-19 crisis, host Real Mallorca on Wednesday.

Thibaut Courtois backed the decision to rule out Adnan Januzaj's effort in Real Madrid's 2-1 win over Real Sociedad, insisting his line of sight was affected.

Januzaj appeared to have cancelled out Sergio Ramos' penalty in the second half, but his strike was ruled out after Mikel Merino was adjudged to be offside.

Karim Benzema doubled Madrid's lead moments later after a VAR check for a possible handball, and Zinedine Zidane's men held on despite Merino's late strike on Sunday.

Courtois, whose Madrid moved top of the LaLiga table, insisted his line of sight was impacted for Januzaj's strike.

"When he shot there were three people in my line, Merino, another from Real and one of us who was covering the shot," the Madrid goalkeeper said, via the club's website.

"I didn't see anything and in the end if you don't see the ball and it goes by so fast it won't give you time to react. It is an offside position.

"It may be right or not, but it prevents seeing it. That is what the VAR is for and I think the decisions have been clear."

With eight LaLiga games remaining, Madrid moved above rivals Barcelona thanks to their superior head-to-head record.

Courtois was happy to collect three points, saying: "The key was to win. We know that it is always difficult to play here.

"It is a great team that fights to enter Europe."

Madrid are in action again with a home clash against Real Mallorca on Wednesday.

Zinedine Zidane hit out at constant talk about refereeing decisions after Real Madrid moved top of LaLiga with a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Sergio Ramos' penalty, for a foul on Vinicius Junior, put Madrid ahead before Adnan Januzaj had an effort ruled out for offside.

Moments later, Karim Benzema doubled Madrid's lead after a VAR check for a possible handball and Zidane's men held on despite Mikel Merino's late strike.

Zidane is tired of all the talk about referees, saying his side deserved their win as they moved above Barcelona thanks to their superior head-to-head record.

"What bothers me is that in the end we only talk about the referees, it seems that we have not done anything on the field," the Madrid head coach told a news conference, via AS.

"But we are not going to control the controversy. We won on the field and I think the victory is deserved."

Zidane added: "There is a penalty and I think that for the goal, Karim touches it with his shoulder.

"These are things of the referee and as always I do not get involved, he does his job and nothing else. I have to respect these things and think only about what we did.

"It is a deserved victory, which is the most important thing for us."

Madrid, who host Real Mallorca on Wednesday, have won three consecutive games since returning to action after the coronavirus-enforced break.

Zidane was satisfied to leave Anoeta with three points, with Madrid top of the table with eight LaLiga games remaining.

"A win, three points at a difficult stadium. We had a complicated match to play until the end," he said.

"We were playing well, creating chances but this doesn't mean anything. We saw how complicated the last 10-15 minutes were.

"But the feeling I'm left with is the effort and the intensity and the attitude we had from the start. And in the end, we leave a difficult stadium with three points. It's a deserved victory."

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos became the highest scoring defender in LaLiga history on Sunday.

Ramos took his career tally in Spain's top flight to 68 goals after converting a penalty as Madrid moved top of LaLiga with a 2-1 win at Real Sociedad.

Madrid broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half courtesy of Ramos, who sent Alex Remiro the wrong way from the penalty spot following a foul on Vinicius Junior.

Ramos equalled his best-ever LaLiga goals haul of seven, while surpassing former Barcelona defender Ronald Koeman on the all-time list.

The 34-year-old Ramos then hobbled off on the hour-mark after taking a knock to his knee, before Karim Benzema doubled Madrid's lead 10 minutes later.

Mikel Merino's thunderous strike gave Sociedad hope with seven minutes remaining, but Madrid held on to replace Barca atop the table through 30 rounds.

Ramos, who emerged from boyhood club Sevilla's youth system in 2004, joined Madrid in 2005.

Since moving to the Santiago Bernabeu, the Spain skipper has won 21 major honours – including four LaLiga titles and as many Champions League crowns.

Ramos is also a two-time European Championship winner and World Cup champion.

Zinedine Zidane moved clear of Vicente del Bosque to sit alone in second place for wins as Real Madrid coach thanks to Sunday's 2-1 success over Real Sociedad. 

Sergio Ramos’ penalty was followed by a Karim Benzema goal to lift Madrid above rivals Barcelona and top of the LaLiga table despite Mikel Merino's late strike. 

The win was Zidane's 134th as Madrid coach, moving him past Del Bosque (133) and only behind Miguel Munoz (357). 

Now in his second stint at the helm of the club, Zidane's 134 wins have come in 202 games in charge. 

With eight games left in the league season, Madrid are above Barcelona thanks to their superior head-to-head record. 

Zidane is aiming to win a second LaLiga title as Madrid coach to add to three Champions League crowns, among numerous other trophies. 

Real Madrid climbed above Barcelona at the top of LaLiga as second-half goals from Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema clinched a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad. 

Barca's goalless draw with Sevilla on Friday handed Zinedine Zidane's men the chance to leapfrog their rivals at the summit - and they duly seized the opportunity with a hard-fought triumph on the road. 

Ramos put Madrid in front from the penalty spot five minutes into the second half, while Benzema added a second less than two minutes after Adnan Januzaj had a goal controversially ruled out for Sociedad. 

The visitors lost Ramos to injury and were given a scare when Mikel Merino pulled one back seven minutes from time, but they held on to make it three wins from three since the restart and overtake Barcelona by virtue of a superior head-to-head record.  

Madrid took nearly an hour to get going in their 3-0 win against Valencia last time out and it was a similar story here against top-four hopefuls Sociedad. 

Vinicius Junior fired over from a good position inside 110 seconds and was then denied by Alex Remiro late in the first half, either side of Benzema's low effort being kept out. 

But Madrid did not have to wait too long into the second half to find a breakthrough, Vinicius tripped by Diego Llorente as he was about to shoot after gliding past two players. 

Ramos made no mistake from the spot, the skipper equalling his best-ever LaLiga goals haul of seven by sending Remiro the wrong way. 

Madrid lost their captain to an apparent knee injury 10 minutes later and nearly suffered a bigger blow when substitute Januzaj picked out the corner with a low drive, only for Merino - deemed to be in Thibaut Courtois' line of sight - to be adjudged offside. 

Sociedad's pain was doubled when Benzema brought down Federico Valverde's cross and fired home, the goal allowed to stand despite a VAR check for a possible handball by the Frenchman. 

And despite an unmarked Merino thumping home at the back post, Madrid saw things through to keep their momentum going.  

 

What does it mean? Advantage Madrid in tight title tussle 

Barcelona looked well below par in their stalemate with Sevilla two days ago and Madrid made them pay with this well-earned victory.  

Zidane's side are level on 65 points with their bitter rivals but edge in front after taking four points from the two Clasico encounters earlier in the campaign. 

Vinicius steps up for Madrid 

Brought into the side for the rested Eden Hazard on the left of Madrid's front three, Vinicius was the visitors' liveliest player in the first half and won the penalty for the key breakthrough soon after the restart. 

James unable to take his chance 

It is no secret that James is not fancied by Zidane, this the Colombia international's first league start since October. He offered little during his 78 minutes on the field and may well have to wait a little while for his next opportunity to impress. 

What's next? 

The games keep coming thick and fast for both sides, with Madrid hosting Real Mallorca on Wednesday and Sociedad at home to Celta Vigo the same day. 

Dean Henderson has a decision to make as he continues to impress on loan at Sheffield United.

He is Manchester United's future number one, but Premier League rivals Chelsea are reportedly interested.

Could the 23-year-old goalkeeper swap Old Trafford for Stamford Bridge?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED AND CHELSEA IN TUG-OF-WAR OVER HENDERSON

Chelsea are trying to lure Dean Henderson away from Manchester United, according to The Sun.

Henderson has flourished at Sheffield United during his loan spell away from United.

Manchester United are offering Henderson a new contract amid doubts over David De Gea but Chelsea are reportedly plotting a big-money move for the Englishman.

 

ROUND-UP

- It appears as though Juventus will miss out on Barcelona midfielder Arthur. Marca says Arthur has rejected an annual salary of €5million to move to Turin.

- Liverpool are eyeing Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele after missing out on Timo Werner, claims Bleacher Report. Werner swapped RB Leipzig for Chelsea.

Inter are interested in Hertha Berlin's Matheus Cunha, reports Calciomercato. The 21-year-old Brazilian only arrived from Leipzig in January.

Jadon Sancho's head is already at Manchester United, according to German journalist Heiko Wasser. Borussia Dortmund star Sancho has been heavily tipped to join United, while the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid are also eyeing the England international.

- Staying at San Siro and The Suns claims Inter want to sign Manchester City full-back Kyle Walker.

Dortmund have reached an agreement with Thomas Meunier to bring the Paris Saint-Germain full-back to the Bundesliga on a free transfer. It is also reported that Edinson Cavani will not sign a new deal and will sit out PSG's Champions League fixtures. He has been linked to Atletico Madrid and Inter.

- The Daily Mail says Juve are interested in bringing Wolves striker Raul Jimenez to Serie A amid interest from United and Madrid.

- Ansu Fati to United? Mundo Deportivo reports the Barca sensation wants to stay at Camp Nou and fight for his place.

Sergio Ramos should be given a new contract by Real Madrid so he can finish his career at the club, according to Predrag Mijatovic.

The defender's deal runs until the end of the 2020-21 season, by which time he will be 35.

Madrid have in the recent past allowed other legendary names to leave at the tail end of their playing days, including Ramos' former team-mates Raul and Iker Casillas, who moved on to Schalke and Porto respectively.

However, Mijatovic is adamant the Spain international must be retained despite his advancing years, giving him the chance to teach future generations about life with Los Blancos.

"We cannot afford to let our players help other teams, because they should be ours," the former Madrid forward told Stats Perform News. "I would like to have this policy back.

"Unfortunately, it doesn't happen at Real Madrid. Raul had great history at Real Madrid and left in a bad way, Fernando Hierro the same, Casillas too.

"Now they are talking about Sergio Ramos [doing the same]. His contract has to be extended, two or three years, it doesn't matter. This guy has to finish his career at Real Madrid.

"He is important, almost a treasure of the club. Both for what he has done already and what he can do In the future, maybe not on the field, but teaching the young players who join Real Madrid on how to play, behave and adapt to the club. That's what it has to happen."

Madrid also let Cristiano Ronaldo depart the Santiago Bernabeu for Juventus in 2018, while there has also been speculation Luka Modric – who turns 35 in September – could move on.

Both players were pivotal in helping win the Champions League for three successive years during Zinedine Zidane's first spell in charge.

"If I had been at the club, I wouldn't let players like Cristiano, Sergio Ramos or Luka Modric leave," Mijatovic continued. 

"They are players that despite losing maybe a bit of fitness as the years go on, they are always very positive for the upcoming players.

"Let's imagine a young striker who comes in and learns from Cristiano, giving him advice. Or a young centre-back speaking with Sergio Ramos – who could teach him better than Sergio Ramos on how he has to behave?

"Football is not just about having great players and then dropping them when you no longer need them. There are some players ...Italians do this perfectly. There are players like [Franco] Baresi, [Paolo] Maldini, and these big players who are a great asset to the club."

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists nothing has changed in the LaLiga title race despite Barcelona's slip-up at Sevilla.

Barca were held to a 0-0 draw at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Friday, opening the door for Madrid to draw level on points with the Blaugrana if they win at Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Victory would see Madrid leapfrog Barca at the top courtesy of their superior head-to-head record.

Speaking after their draw, Barca defender Gerard Pique told Movistar Plus that it would be "very difficult" for them to retain LaLiga, expressing his belief that "it's going to be difficult for Madrid to lose points" having seen what has happened in the games since the restart following the coronavirus-enforced hiatus.

Those comments were regarded by some as a reference to seemingly favourable refereeing decisions Madrid have received in their wins over Eibar and Valencia.

Zidane, though, showed little interest in Pique's remarks at his pre-match media conference on Saturday, telling reporters: "Nothing has changed.

"We have a game tomorrow and we have talked about 11 finals. We will give everything and without thinking about anything else."

Asked about Pique's comments, he replied: "Say one thing or another. What interests me is tomorrow's game.

"I have my opinion, but I will not comment on it because it can happen the other way around. The truth is that what encourages us is tomorrow's game. Nothing else."

"I don't believe they are favouring us," Zidane said when pressed on whether refereeing decisions had been benefiting Los Blancos.

Sociedad are contending for the Champions League places but have been held by Osasuna and beaten by Deportivo Alaves in their two games since the restart.

"I don't know if they are playing worse, the results have been worse, but they can get you into trouble at any time," added Zidane. "Tomorrow is another final."

Barcelona coach Quique Setien disagreed with Gerard Pique and believes Real Madrid will drop points late in the LaLiga season.

Setien's men were held to a 0-0 draw at Sevilla on Friday, giving Madrid the chance to join them on 65 points when they visit Real Sociedad.

Pique said it was hard to see Madrid dropping points in their remaining nine games, but Setien disagreed.

"I think that about Pique is the frustration of the moment. We were very confident because we had 30 very good minutes at the beginning of the game and then we got messy," he said, via AS.

"In the second half, we lost balls that gave them life.

"Tomorrow, he will surely think differently because I am sure that Madrid will not win everything."

A win against Sociedad on Sunday would send Madrid top of the table thanks to their head-to-head record against Barcelona after their El Clasico victory in March.

But Setien, whose side host Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday, is remaining upbeat.

"The rivals always have things to say, there are very tough confrontations and you have to be optimistic," he said.

"We don't depend on ourselves, but you have to be optimistic."

Gerard Pique said it was hard to see Real Madrid dropping points between now and the end of the season after Barcelona handed Zinedine Zidane's team a huge title boost.

A goalless draw at Sevilla on Friday opened the door for Madrid to potentially join Barcelona at the top of LaLiga on Sunday, when they tackle Real Sociedad at Anoeta.

Pique could not inspire Barcelona to find a breakthrough at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, leaving the race for glory wide open again.

He said afterwards: "It's going to be difficult to win this league. We're going to do everything we can but very few points will be lost.

"From what I've seen in recent weeks, it's going to be very difficult for Real Madrid to lose points."

Lionel Messi went close with a first-half free-kick and provided a familiar spark at times, but Barcelona faded after a bright opening 30 minutes.

Pique felt he and his team-mates missed an opportunity to take another three points, but he might later reflect on how it might have been worse.

Sevilla defender Sergio Reguilon, on loan from Real Madrid, had a glorious last-gasp chance but made a hash of a close-range shot and Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a comfortable save.

After this weekend, both frontrunners will have eight games left to play in the league.

Asked if it felt as though two points had got away in Seville, Pique said: "Yes, because we were in control and had more chances. They looked a bit tired. I think we were good with the ball but there was little space. We couldn't get the goal."

Lautaro Martinez has been tipped to make the move to Camp Nou.

The Inter forward is at the top of Barcelona's list of targets as the Spanish giants eye a long-term replacement for veteran Luis Suarez.

But Inter are not making things easy for Barca.

 

TOP STORY – INTER NOT BUDGING OVER MARTINEZ

Inter are standing firm over Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez, according to Sky Sport Italia.

LaLiga champions Barca are determined to sign the Argentina forward but Inter are unwilling to budge on their demands – either pay his €111million release clause or splash €90-95m plus a player chosen by the Serie A club. 

The same network claims Inter loanee  Alexis Sanchez  could renew his loan deal from Manchester United.

 

ROUND-UP

Inter are interested in Real Madrid full-back Achraf Hakimi, reports Calciomercato. Achraf, who has spent the past two seasons on loan at Dortmund, has been linked with the likes of Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and others. Inter are admirers of the Morocco international but remain some way off luring him to Milan.

- The Times says Chelsea are prepared to sell star midfielder N'Golo Kante to raise funds for extra transfers. Madrid are thought to be keen on the Frenchman as Chelsea look to sign Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell and Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz.

Napoli have reached a "total agreement" with Lille for defender Gabriel Magalhaes, says Footmercato. The Brazilian centre-back has also been linked to Everton and Tottenham.

- Sky Sport Italia journalist Gianluca Di Marzio reports Fiorentina are battling Milan and Everton for outgoing PSG defender Thiago Silva, who is a free agent.

Milan have been mooted as the most likely destination for Naby Keita as Liverpool consider selling the former RB Leipzig midfielder, according to Milan Live.

David Alaba to leave Bayern Munich? The Telegraph claims the Bundesliga champions are open to a sale, alerting the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City, United and PSG.

Karim Benzema never imagined he would be among Real Madrid's top five goalscorers after surpassing Ferenc Puskas on Thursday.

The striker scored a brace as Madrid moved back within two points of rivals and LaLiga leaders Barcelona with a 3-0 win over Valencia.

Benzema moved past Puskas (242 goals) and into fifth on Madrid's all-time list with 243, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo (451), Raul (323), Alfredo Di Stefano (308) and Santillana (290).

The Frenchman, who arrived at Madrid from Lyon in 2009, was happy with his achievement.

"I didn't imagine anything like this, I'm very happy. I've been working for a long time now and I always put it in to keep improving," Benzema said, via the club's website.

"I hope I can keep going. I'm very happy to be playing for this club."

Benzema's second goal was spectacular as he controlled a Marco Asensio pass brilliantly before unleashing a volley past Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.

The 32-year-old said everything moved so quickly as he scored to make it 3-0, before Lee Kang-in was later sent off for Valencia.

"It wasn't an easy game due to the opposition who made it hard, but we won and didn't concede," Benzema said.

"It's very important because Valencia are a very good team. For the second goal everything happened so fast.

"It was a cross from Marco, I control it, I shot with the left foot and it went in. It looks easy, but you have to do it so fast."

Benzema has scored 21 goals in 38 games this season, with Madrid back in action against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Zinedine Zidane celebrated his 133rd win as Real Madrid head coach to move second on the club's all-time list.

Zidane oversaw Madrid's 3-0 LaLiga victory over 10-man Valencia thanks to a brilliant Karim Benzema brace in the Spanish capital on Thursday.

In his second spell in charge of Madrid after returning in March 2019, Zidane became the coach with the second most wins in club history – equalling Vicente del Bosque's record.

Miguel Munoz tops the list with 357 wins as coach of Madrid, where he led Los Blancos to two European Cup triumphs and nine LaLiga titles from 1960 to 1972.

Zidane, who enjoyed great success as a Madrid player between 2001 and 2006, has claimed three Champions League (2016, 2017 and 2018) trophies in the dugout.

The 47-year-old Frenchman has also tasted LaLiga (2017), UEFA Super Cup (2016 and 2017), Club World Cup (2016 and 2017) and Supercopa de Espana (2017 and 2020) glory in the coaching role.

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane said he was "delighted" for Karim Benzema after the star forward surpassed Ferenc Puskas on the club's all-time scorers list.

Benzema scored a brilliant brace to inspire a 3-0 LaLiga win over 10-man Valencia at Madrid Castilla's Alfredo Di Stefano stadium on Thursday.

After opening the scoring just past the hour-mark, Benzema completed the victory in stunning fashion with four minutes remaining – rifling a volley past Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen following Marco Asensio's 74th-mintue effort.

Benzema's two-goal display in the Spanish capital took his tally to 243 goals for Madrid across all competitions, leapfrogging club great Puskas (242) for fifth on the all-time list.

"It was a great goal, for the move and the finish – I'm delighted for Karim's goals," Zidane said after Madrid moved back within two points of leaders and rivals Barcelona.

It was a memorable outing for Asensio, who marked his long-awaited return by scoring with his first touch against Valencia.

Asensio sustained an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last July and returned to the pitch as a 74th-minute substitute on Thursday – the Spaniard's impact immediate.

"This means a lot for him. We're happy to see him back on the pitch," Zidane said. "After so many months out, to come back and score a great goal in his first involvement makes me really happy.

"He was already happy just to get out on to the pitch and then he was able to score straight away, which shows he is already involved."

Eden Hazard also impressed for Madrid – the Belgium star combining with Luka Modric to tee up Benzema for the opening goal in Madrid.

Injury and fitness have hampered Hazard's maiden Madrid campaign, but the former Chelsea attacker showed glimpses of why Los Blancos invested so heavily in the 29-year-old.

"This was a really good game from Hazard," Zidane added. "Physically, he was good and played 80 minutes. Sometimes you might think he's starting to look tired, but then he picks up the ball and sprints away."

Madrid remain within touching distance of Barca with nine matches remaining in the coronavirus-impacted 2019-20 LaLiga season.

On the title race, Zidane said: "We know that it will be like this until the end, but today we can be happy because of what we've done in the game.

"They are the ones fighting; we have to enjoy and congratulate the players because it was a complete game and then think about the next game against Real Sociedad."

Barca will face third-placed Sevilla on Friday and Zidane added: "We depend on what we are going to do, knowing the situation. I'll watch the game, but I don't have the idea in my head that Barcelona will slip up; we have to think about ourselves."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.