A heavily depleted Real Madrid continued its pursuit of La Liga leader Atletico Madrid with a hard-fought 1-0 victory away to struggling Real Valladolid on Saturday to move within three points of its city rival.

Brazilian midfielder Casemiro got the breakthrough goal in a cagey game by heading in a free-kick from Toni Kroos in the 65th minute, making amends for missing the target with free headers in either half.

The champion was without top scorer Karim Benzema and an additional eight players due to injury but did just enough to notch a fourth consecutive victory and take full advantage of Atletico’s 2-0 defeat at home by Levante earlier on Saturday.

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Real remains in second but moved on to 52 points after 24 games, with Atletico leading the standings on 55 with a game in hand. Barcelona, which plays at home to Cadiz…

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