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10-man Real Madrid scores injury-time winner against Alavés to go top of La Liga into Christmas break

Lucas Vázquez celebrates after netting the late winner along with Antonio Rüdiger.Pedro Castillo/Real Madrid/Getty Images

Lucas Vázquez scored a 92nd-minute winner to earn 10-man Real Madrid a huge three points against Alavés and send Los Blancos top of La Liga heading into the Christmas break.

Girona’s draw at Real Sociedad earlier on Thursday meant Real had the chance to reclaim top spot, but Carlo Ancelotti’s side was left frustrated for the vast majority of the contest by a resilient and organized Alavés.

Real’s task became even harder when defender Nacho was shown a straight red card for a late stamp on Samuel Omorodion’s heel, leading Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti to substitute in midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni and use him as a makeshift center back.

However, despite the numerical disadvantage, Real snatched a late winner when Vázquez, one of the smallest players on the pitch, headed home from a corner after being left completely unmarked.

His winning goal sparked a furious – and hilarious – reaction from Alavés head coach Luis García, who went on a 30-second rampage that included kicking water bottles, flipping the water cooler, grabbing a member of the coaching staff by the shoulders and then kicking the floor of the dugout in frustration.

“We definitely come away with a very good taste in our mouths,” match winner Vázquez said, per Real Madrid. “It was a complicated game in which, after the sending off, we knew how to stick it out. We held out until the end and we got the reward that I think we deserved.

“At no time did we have any doubts about looking for the win, regardless of being a man down. The team didn’t lower their level at any time and that’s something to be happy about. We went a man down very early on and the team managed to dig in, defend well and attack too. We didn’t struggle with it at any time.

“It’s important for us to head off on holiday in the lead. We have to try and keep this good run up in 2024, alongside the good feeling and positive dynamic. We’re going to keep getting better.”

Nacho was shown a deserved straight red early in the second half.Diego Souto/Getty Images

Real Madrid’s unbeaten run now stands at 17 games as the team continues to gradually improve after a sluggish start to the season.

With Barcelona seven points behind in third place, Real is now the overwhelming favorite to win a third La Liga title in four years.

But the team will not be taking the challenge of surprise package Girona lightly, with the Catalan club proving through 18 matches that this run is no fluke – it deserves to be fighting for top spot.

When the teams return to action on January 3, Real welcomes Real Mallorca while Girona has a real test of its title credentials at home to Atlético Madrid.

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