- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2016

MADRID (AP) - Things couldn’t be going much better for Real Madrid. Even the draws are feeling like victories.

Madrid was celebrating Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Barcelona at Camp Nou, which kept the team with a comfortable advantage over its rival atop the Spanish league.

“This point feels like a win,” Real Madrid left back Marcelo said. “We fought hard and gave our best playing away against a tough rival. We never gave up. We knew that a point here would really help us.”

Sergio Ramos’ dramatic 90th-minute header kept Madrid six points ahead of Barcelona after 14 rounds, and extended the rival’s series of disappointing results. The Catalan club has drawn three consecutive league games and has won only two of its last seven games in all competitions.

“A goal like that in the ‘clasico’ feel almost like a win,” Madrid midfielder Luka Modric said. “It is a hugely important and deserved point. We fought until the end and never gave up. It is vital that we remain leaders and we don’t let up, we must keep going like this.”

The result extended Madrid’s unbeaten run to 33 games, one short of the team record set under coach Leo Beenhakker in the 1988-89 season, and six short of Barcelona’s Spanish record of 39 consecutive games without a loss last season, a streak that ended with a late defeat to Madrid when the teams played at Camp Nou for the last time before Saturday’s match.

Madrid hasn’t been defeated since April at Wolfsburg in the quarterfinals of last season’s Champions League.

“We are pleased with the point but we know that La Liga will remain difficult until the end,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “We have to keep working hard until the end.”

Madrid went through a difficult period about two months ago, when it drew four consecutive games and was jeered by its demanding fans. But since then it has thrived, winning nine of its last 11 games.

“The leader hasn’t faltered in a long time,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. “All we can do is keep winning our games and put some pressure on them, just like they did to us last season.”

Madrid was 12 points behind Barcelona with nine rounds left in the Spanish league last season but finished only one point from the title after a spectacular late run that included 12 straight wins.

Madrid has won two Champions League titles in the last three seasons, but it hasn’t lifted the league trophy since 2012. Barcelona won three titles and Atletico Madrid one since then.

Madrid’s next game is Wednesday against Borussia Dortmund in the final round of the group stage of the Champions League. The winner at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium will secure first place in Group F. Borussia arrives with a two-point lead over the defending champions.

Madrid’s next Spanish league game is Saturday against Deportivo La Coruna at the Bernabeu. It then travels to Japan for FIFA’s Club World Cup.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tazzoni


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