Real Madrid win again, but Neville has to apologise

Date published: Monday 14th March 2016 8:33

Casemiro: Celebrates scoring for Real Madrid against Las Palmas

Real Madrid claimed a third straight Primera Division victory after a thrilling late show at Las Palmas, but Gary Neville was left to apologise after a defeat for Valencia.

Sergio Ramos and Casemiro punished slack Las Palmas marking from corners to secure a 2-1 win for Real, the Brazilian’s 89th-minute header coming just moments after former Madrid man Willian Jose had levelled for the hosts.

Ramos was sent off in stoppage time after picking up a second yellow card, but Real held on to close the gap on second-placed Atletico Madrid to four points.

Real were making their first trip to the Canary Islands since a side featuring Zinedine Zidane were beaten there 4-2 in October 2001.

Zidane was in the Madrid dugout this time, and with Cristiano Ronaldo having an off night, his side were often second best after Keylor Navas denied Jose early on.

Ramos thundered home an Isco corner after 24 minutes, but Las Palmas had chances to equalise through Nili, Momo and substitute Sergio Araujo.

Gareth Bale almost wrapped up the points with a 25-yard shot which whistled just wide, but Las Palmas equalised three minutes from time when Momo pounced on Mateo Kovacic’s sloppy free-kick and slipped in Jose.

But Casemiro popped up in the 89th minute to score a rare goal and hand Real three points they barely deserved.

Neville apologises to Valencia fans

Neville suffered more misery as Valencia boss, meanwhile, as his former Manchester United team-mate Giuseppe Rossi earned bottom-placed Levante a 1-0 win to condemn their local rivals to a third successive defeat.

Rossi had hit the post in the first half, but the Italy international made no mistake midway through the second period with a well-struck volley.

Valencia would have gone into the top half of the Primera Division with a victory, but Neville had no gloss to apply to a poor display.

He said: “I have been here three months and I have sat up here after defeats and defended performances. I have sat up here and said we were unlucky. But I am not defending that.

“I have got to take responsibility for defeat, first and foremost, but that was an indefensible performance. Unacceptable. It was not good enough.”

Neville added on Sky Sports: “I apologise to the fans of Valencia because the very basic premise of a football match is that you run as hard, you fight as hard and you tackle as hard as the opposition.

“You might sometimes think that things go against you, but not today. Levante were the better team. I can’t defend what I’ve just seen.”

Sevilla and Bilbao also win

Also on Sunday, Sevilla moved into the top five with a 4-2 home victory over fourth-placed Villarreal.

The gap between the two sides was cut to five points after Villarreal’s Cedric Bakambu cancelled out Vicente Iborra’s goal and then scored a second to give the visitors a 2-1 half-time lead.

But Villarreal defender Victor Ruiz put through his own net before Yevhen Konoplyanka’s long-range effort gave Sevilla a 3-2 lead in the 65th minute.

Ever Banega was sent off for a second booking on 80 minutes but Jose Antonio Reyes sealed the points by scoring in stoppage time.

Athletic Bilbao also stayed in the hunt for the fourth Champions League place with a 3-1 home victory over Real Betis.

It was Athletic’s fourth consecutive win and they are a point behind Sevilla in sixth.

Athletic had top scorer Aritz Aduriz on the bench but Sabin Merino scored either side of half-time and Mikel Rico added a third.

Ruben Castro grabbed a late consolation goal for Betis, who remain in 11th place.

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