Real Madrid's Isco, second right, celebrates with Alvaro Morata after scoring against Sporting de Gijon during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Sporting de Gijon, at El Molinon stadium in Gijon, northern Spain, Saturday, April 15, 2017. In the end we are 24 players and everyone can play outside of Real Madrid.
Sporting have the third-worst defensive record in La Liga this season having conceded 61 goals in 31 games.
From that, Mikel Vesga played arguably the pass of the season, scooping the ball over Madrid's defence, for Cop, who guided a finish past Kiko Casilla on the half-volley.
Real Madrid twice came back from a goal down and scored a 90th-minute victor to earn a 3-2 win at Sporting Gijon on Saturday in La Liga to remain in first place. Rodriguez sent in a free-kick from the right, which Nacho headed down, but goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar made a superb save on the line and the ball ran across the face of goal with Morata unable to stab it home at the far post.
Isco's outstanding performance saved Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane from paying a heavy price for resting nearly all his first-choice players, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, for important matches against Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
Morata scored nine minutes later, heading home Danilo's cross, and Madrid pressed for a victor with Isco robbed of the ball when poised to shoot after another bewitching dribble and substitute Marcelo drilling wide.
Madrid leads second-placed Barcelona by three points and has a game in hand on its rival. "We need everyone and everyone responds".
The hard-fought win at relegation-threatened Sporting increased Madrid's lead to six points over Barcelona, before the defending champions host Real Sociedad later.
Barcelona hosts Real Sociedad on Saturday, its first match since losing 3-0 at Juventus in the Champions League this week.
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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.
Only captain Sergio Ramos and Fernandez Nacho retained their places as James Rodriguez, Lucas Vazquez, Morata, Marco Asensio and Fabio Coentrao came in for rare starts.
"If I have been unfair to Isco I have been unfair to all who do not play".
The lead did not last long, however, as man-of-the-match Isco danced away from two defenders before curling into the top corner.
Isco has reiterated his desire to stay at Real Madrid "for many years", after being hailed by manager Zinedine Zidane.
He said: "Zidane makes the line-ups and is managing the squad in an extraordinary way".
Sporting, who started the day five points adrift of safety, had gone ahead on 14 minutes through a volley from Croatian forward Duje Cop, but Real were soon level when midfielder Isco drilled the ball into the top corner.
Vesga looped a header over Kiko Casilla to put the hosts back in front after halftime, but Alvaro Morata equalised with a headed goal of his own, before Isco's late victor.