Real Madrid stayed top of the Spanish first division on Sunday with a dramatic 3-2 win over Villarreal.

Zinedine Zidane’s team fell behind on 50 minutes when Manu Trigueros put Villarreal ahead.

Cedric Bakambu doubled the lead six minutes later but Gareth Bale headed in Marcelo’s cross to put Real Madrid back in the game on 64 minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored from the penalty spot after Bruno Soriano was harshly judged to have handled in the area on 74 minutes.

And substitute Alvaro Morata nodded in Marcelo’s cross to win the game seven minutes from time.

Madrid had staged a remarkable 19-minute comeback and they remain a point clear of second-placed Barcelona with a game in hand.

Villarreal coach Fran Escriba was sent off for his protests after the penalty against his team.

Rule changes at the start of the season in Spain clearly state that if the ball hits a player’s arm after first hitting another player a penalty should not be given.

“I never said anything out of place. I respect the referees but the rule is that after a rebound it cannot be a penalty," Escriba said after the game.

“When it was 2-1 I still didn’t think they were going to equalize. We are very frustrated by the result but we take the positives that we were able to score two goals.”

Madrid coach Zidane is under pressure to play fans’ favourites Morata and Isco more and after both super-subs saved Madrid the coach admitted.

“They came on and changed the game and of course they deserve more minutes on the pitch,” he said.

Earlier Lionel Messi scored the winner as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 2-1.

There were three minutes left at the Vicente Calderon when Luis Suarez crossed and at the second attempt Messi shot past Jan Oblak.

Barcelona had taken the lead on 63 minutes through Rafinha after a blocked Suarez shot ran to the Brazilian in the area and he found the far corner of Oblak’s goal.

Diego Godin equalized on 70 minutes with a glancing near-post header from Koke’s free-kick, but Messi had the last word.

“My goal was important because the game was so difficult for us,” said Rafinha.

“We know how difficult it is to score here. We dug-in and got the result.”

Atletico Madrid captain Gabi said: “We did enough to win the game but by conceding two goals scored from rebounds, we have lost it.”

The scrappy nature of the Barcelona goals also drew comment from Luis Enrique.

“The pitch was terrible for passing but it actually helped us because it held the ball up for the two goals," he said.

“I’m content because our key players delivered for us when it mattered.”

Diego Simeone said: “We thought we did enough to win the game but they were effective in the two areas which is where it matters most.”

Madrid have 55 points at the top of the Spanish first division, Barcelona have 54, Sevilla are third with 52 points, while Atletico Madrid are fourth on 45.

The bottom three were all also in action on Sunday with only Sporting Gijon avoiding defeat.

They drew 1-1 with Celta Vigo while Granada were beaten 3-1 by Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna lost 3-0 to Espanyol, having Oier Sanjurjo sent off on 27 minutes. 

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