Ronaldo resting, Isco's 2 goals keeps Madrid on title track

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Real Madrid's Isco, left, fights for the ball with Sporting de Gijon's Vesga during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Sporting de Gijon, at El Molinon stadium in Gijon, northern Spain, Saturday, Apri.

Madrid twice came from behind before Isco's low drive in the 90th minute handed Los Blancos victory against their exhausted hosts, who had faced waves of attacks.

Madrid was on the verge of a second consecutive draw when the Spain midfielder drilled a right-footed shot from just outside the area between goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar and his post.

Alvaro Morata, leading the line as Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale sat out, headed his 12th league goal of the season for Madrid's second equaliser and, with eight seconds of normal time to play, Isco screamed for the ball on the edge of the box and rifled an unerring strike into the bottom left corner.

It was 2-0 just after the start of the second half as Carrasco found the net again as he headed in a cross from Nicolas Gaitan at the far post.

Bale has played just 25 times in all competitions this season due to various injuries and suspension.

Meanwhile, they remain on course to become the first team to retain the Champions League in 27 years. "We need everyone and everyone responds".

Barcelona must now beat Real Sociedad in Saturday's late kick-off to ensure they remain within three points of Madrid ahead of next weekend's Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu.

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Messi added an assist as Barcelona saw off a unsafe Real Sociedad side 3-2 at Camp Nou, with the defending champions struggling to end a run of defeats at Malaga in the league and Juventus in the Champions League.

Before the fierce rivals meet next round, both will play the return legs of their Champions League quarterfinals.

Bale had to be replaced for the final half hour of Madrid's 2-1 win in Munich on Wednesday after aggravating an ankle injury that saw him miss almost three months earlier this season.

Asensio saw his close-range effort chalked out for offside after the ball came back off the crossbar. "I'm more than satisfied with my players' ability to deal with their frustration after what happened in the Champions League".

Just when it looked like the La Liga leaders had run out of time to conjure a victor, Isco drilled a low shot into the bottom left corner from the edge of the penalty area.

"He will not be with us tomorrow, that is clear, after that we will see", Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said on Friday. "We were able to pull out a win against a very hard rival", Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said.

Mikel Vesga's looping header put Sporting, who started the day five points adrift of safety, back in front at the start of the second half.

A looping header from Mikel Vesga put the Asturian side back in front five minutes into the second half but Real equalised again just before the hour through Alvaro Morata before Isco bagged a late victor.