SERGIO RAMOS scored a stunning free-kick to seal Real Madrid’s 2-0 victory over RCD Mallorca at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, taking Los Blancos above Barcelona at the top of LaLiga.
Zinedine Zidane’s side have made their temporary home a mini-fortress since the season’s resumption, now winning three out of three games there.
But they were made to work for this one, before their skipper’s moment of genius but the contest to bed.
Take Kubo, on loan from Madrid, and Lago Junior buzzed around for the visitors, but it was Vinicius Junior that opened the scoring.
The Brazilian had wasted a golden opportunity just moments before the opener when put through on goal by Eden Hazard.
But he made no mistake in the 19th minute.
Luka Modric shimmied inside from the left and looked for all the world as if he was about to rifle a shot towards goal.
Instead however, the Croatian slipped a reverse ball toward Vinicius.
And after Gareth Bale, starting for the first time since February 16, nearly got in his way – the 19-year-old beat the onrushing goalkeeper with a sublime chipped finish.
Vinicius was at the centre of everything in the first half, and should have made it two in the 24th minute, having been played through by an inch-perfect Karim Benzema through-ball following a smart Hazard backheel.
Rather than poking the ball into the corner of the net, however, he tried to chip the goalkeeper again – this time measuring it slightly incorrectly and seeing the ball crash out off the crossbar.
Lago persistently gave Carvajal a torrid time down the left-hand side, but found himself on the losing side as Mallorca went in at the break 1-0 down.
And things got worse for him and his team 11 minutes into the second half, when Ramos produced a moment of sublime brilliance.
Bale had wanted to take a free-kick awarded on the edge of the penalty area, but was nudged off it by his skipper, who then curled an unstoppable drive into the top corner of the net.
Remarkably, the goal was Ramos’ tenth of the campaign, making him his side’s second top-scorer – despite being a centre-back.
Mallorca subsequently huffed and puffed to try and get back into the game, even making history by bringing on 15-year-old forward Luka Romero in their quest to do so.
The teen became LaLiga’s youngest ever player in the process, but was unable to turn the tide, as Real Madrid struck a blow to Barcelona in Europe’s tightest title race.