MADRID: Gareth Bale’s late penalty ensured Spanish league leaders Real Madrid overcame Cristiano Ronaldo’s dismissal to secure a hard-fought victory over Cordoba.

Nabil Ghilas’s early penalty meant Real had to fight back, which they initially did through Karim Benzema’s equaliser.

Their chances of victory seemed lost after Ronaldo was sent off for lashing out at Edimar in the 82nd minute.

But Fede Cartabia saw red for handling in the box and Bale scored from the spot to keep Real top of the table.

The win keeps Carlo Ancelotti’s side one point ahead of second-placed Barcelona, who beat Elche 6-0 on Saturday.

It also gives them a third straight La Liga victory after their 22-game winning streak in 2014 was brought to an end by Valencia on 4 January.

They were forced to do it the hard way, though, after Ghilas’ second-minute spot-kick – awarded for handball in the box by Sergio Ramos – had given Cordoba the lead at the Nuevo Estadio El Arcangel.

Benzema’s 15th goal of the season, from close range, ensured that despite their poor showing, Real went in at the break level.