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Real Madrid moved three points clear of Barcelona at the top of LaLiga as Casemiro's double earned a hard-fought 2-1 win over Sevilla at Santiago Bernabeu.
Fresh from their penalty shootout victory over Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana, injury-hit Madrid were largely underwhelming until a moment of quality from Casemiro broke the deadlock shortly before the hour on Saturday.
Indeed, Sevilla thought they had taken the lead through Luuk de Jong's header midway through the first half, but Julen Lopetegui's luck was out against his former club as VAR came to Los Blancos' rescue.
De Jong did have his goal when he curled in a superb strike from the edge of the area after 64 minutes, only for Casemiro to double his tally five minutes later as Madrid claimed the points.
After a promising run from Rodrygo Goes came to nothing, Toni Kroos had the first sighter of the match, curling a first-time effort tamely into the arms of Tomas Vaclik.
Madrid swiftly took control, but lacked cutting edge up top and relied on VAR to keep them on level terms with 30 minutes played when De Jong's header was disallowed for Nemanja Gudelj blocking off Eder Militao, much to Lopetegui's chagrin.
But Casemiro took matters into his own hands in the 57th minute, lifting a deft finish over Vaclik after racing onto Luka Jovic's clever flick.
Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr were introduced as Zinedine Zidane looked to press home their advantage, yet it was Sevilla who struck next - De Jong's excellent finish into the left-hand corner allowed to stand despite an apparent handball from Munir El Haddadi.
Parity was short lived, however, and Casemiro made no mistake when he was left unmarked in the area to head home from Lucas Vazquez's cross, with a fine save from Vaclik preventing Kroos from adding a third late on.
Goal! Casemiro at the double! The midfielder nods the ball into the bottom corner from Vasquez's cross!
Goal! Sevilla hit back! Luuk de Jong takes advantage of a defensive error and curls the ball into the bottom corner! This time it's given!
Goal! Real make the breakthrough! Jovic with a delicious backheel to set up Casemiro who finds the back of the net with a delicate chip!
NO GOAL! Luuk de Jong plants a header into the top corner! After a quick VAR check, it's disallowed for obstruction in the build-up!
Peep! We are underway in Madrid!
Warm-up time in Madrid! Don't forget our live coverage starts from 18:00 Mecca!
Belive it or not, Sergio Ramos once played for Sevilla and scored this screamer against Real Madrid way back when. No wonder they signed him!
Sevilla look ready! How about them white trousers!
Now for Sevilla... Luuk de Jong will lead the line for Lopetegui's men! New signing Youssef En-Nesyri has to settle for a place on the bench.
🚨 #SevillaFC starting XI 🆚 @realmadriden:— Sevilla FC (@SevillaFC_ENG) January 18, 2020
Vaclík - Navas, Koundé, Diego Carlos, Reguilón - Fernando, Gudelj, Banega - Munir, Vázquez, De Jong.#RealMadridSevillaFC #WeareSevilla pic.twitter.com/hzLQlsbPSl
Team news... Luka Jović leads the line, Karim Benzema drops to the bench, no place for Gareth Bale in the matchday squad.
Real Madrid's dressing room is looking well! We should have team news any minute now...
So can Sevilla pull off an upset this evening?
Good afternoon! Welcome to the Live Updates of Real Madrid Vs Sevilla, it's been a perfect start to 2020 for Los Blancos, can they continue winning ways as Sevilla, coached by former boss Julen Lopetegui head to the Santiago Bernabéu. Join me for all the build-up, team news and yes the goals as they go in from this must-watch game!