Late Marcelo strike keeps Real title bid on track; Granada relegated

By Richard Martin

By Richard Martin

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Marcelo came to Real Madrid's rescue to secure a 2-1 win over Valencia, provisionally taking Zinedine Zidane's side three points clear at the top of La Liga, moments after they had conceded a potentially crucial equaliser.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal in five league games to put Real ahead in the 27th minute but in the second half had a penalty saved by Diego Alves, who turned away a league-record sixth spot kick of the campaign.

Valencia pulled level in the 82nd minute with a thumping free kick from Dani Parejo, the former Real academy player who had fouled Luka Modric for the penalty.

Marcelo quickly restored Real's lead, however, by cutting inside from the left-hand side of the area and curling the ball under Alves with his weaker right foot, keeping Real on course for a first title since 2012.

Real top the standings on 81 points after 34 games although champions Barcelona, who have also played 34, could take their place at the summit due to their superior head-to-head record if they beat local rivals Espanyol later on Saturday.

Granada's run of six consecutive seasons in La Liga ended following a 2-1 defeat at Real Sociedad, leaving Tony Adams's side 10 points adrift of safety with three games left. They join basement club Osasuna in the Segunda Division next season.

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Clare Fallon)