SPAIN SOCCER LALIGA Sergio Ramos
Real Madrid earned a controversial 2-1 win at Real Sociedad on Sunday to go top of La Liga, ahead of Barcelona on their head-to-head record, capitalising on the reigning champions' draw at Sevilla two days earlier.
The fate of Zinedine Zidane's team, who were fortunate to have several calls go their way at Reale Arena, is now in their own hands as wins in all of their remaining eight matches would see them crowned champions.
Despite the prize of going top on offer, Madrid played lethargically in the first half, missing the spark of Eden Hazard.
Zidane handed James Rodriguez a surprise start in place of the Belgian, who had looked good in the first two games back after the season resumed.
Madrid's Casemiro was lucky to only earn a booking on 21 minutes for an elbow on Mikel Merino, although he is now suspended for the visit of Mallorca on Wednesday.
Vinicius Junior went down in the box under minor pressure and Madrid were awarded a penalty in the 50th, with Sergio Ramos coolly dispatching it to become the league's top-scoring defender of all time, with 68 goals.
Madrid conceded in the 68th minute after Adnan Januzaj drove home from distance, but the goal was disallowed because keeper Thibaut Courtois' view was adjudged to be blocked by an offside Merino.
Moments later Karim Benzema fired home Madrid's second although the ball struck his upper arm in the build up, with Sociedad players claiming in vain for handball.
Merino pulled one back but the visitors' 2-1 victory moved them level with Barca on 65 points but ahead having drawn and beaten the Catalans earlier in the campaign.
"There are still a lot of games left, coming every three days, and the pressure remains the same," said Zidane.
"It's a good victory but it doesn't change our way of thinking. Everything will be decided in the end."
Elsewhere Goncalo Guedes and Rodrigo scored in Valencia's 2-0 win over Osasuna at Mestalla to stay in the hunt for European Champion qualification, while Celta Vigo thumped Alaves 6-0 at Balaidos.
Goals from Jeison Murillo, Iago Aspas, Nolito, Santi Mina and a Rafinha double moved the hosts up to 16th and four points clear of the relegation zone, while Alaves dropped one place to 13th.