Marcelo talks up Real's title credentials after win at Alaves

VITORIA-GASTEIZ, Spain (Reuters) - Real Madrid defender Marcelo said his side’s gutsy 2-1 win away to Alaves is the type of victory that could end up proving the difference in the title race after his side went three points clear at the top of La Liga on Saturday.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid - Estadio Mendizorroza, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain - November 30, 2019 Real Madrid's Marcelo and Isco look dejected as Lucas Perez celebrates scoring the first goal for Deportivo Alaves REUTERS/Vincent West

Coach Zinedine Zidane’s side were pegged back in a wet and gruelling encounter in the Basque country when Lucas Perez converted a penalty to cancel out Sergio Ramos’ opener.

But full-back Dani Carvajal struck soon after down the other end to grab all the points.

“We know that in stadiums like this, teams always give everything against Real Madrid, and we coped very well with the kicks, the rain and the cold,” said Marcelo, who put in a brave block to prevent Perez levelling for Alaves in added time.

“That was crucial because these are the games that win you league titles. In matches like this you don’t just have to play well when you have the ball, you also have to be good without it.

“When Alaves scored, they grew in confidence, but we knew how to react.”

Real’s sixth win in eight games in all competitions saw them leapfrog Barcelona to the top of the standings with 31 points, although Barca can return to the summit on goal difference if they win when they visit fourth-placed Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

Madrid were beaten 1-0 at Alaves last season under Julen Lopetegui, and coach Zidane praised his side for digging deep in difficult decisions and getting the result they wanted this time round.

“We played with a lot of discipline, we knew we would have to fight and we did that and got the three points in a very tough stadium,” said the Frenchman.

“It’s a very important victory, even without thinking about the Atletico-Barca game. We played with a lot of character and this performance will allow us to keep growing. Winning at places like here gives us a real boost.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Pravin Char