Luka Modric scored only his second goal in La Liga this season

Luka Modric rolled back the years with a sublime late winner against Sevilla as Real Madrid moved eight points clear at the top of La Liga.

With England midfielder Jude Bellingham absent for Real for a third consecutive game, the contest looked to be heading towards a goalless draw.

However, Croatia midfielder Modric, 38, curled in seven minutes after his introduction as a substitute.

Modric has started in just 11 of his 21 La Liga appearances this season.

The former Ballon d’Or winner is out of contract in June and Real boss Carlo Ancelotti said he would understand if the Croatian was upset about his lack of playing time.

“He shows everyone how hard it is for me to leave him on the bench,” Ancelotti said.

“Not just for the goal he scored, but how he trains. He is an example to the whole squad. It’s very complicated to leave him on the bench.”

Ancelotti said Modric’s contract situation was also “complicated”, adding: “It’s hard to manage. I was once a player and went through it in my last year as a professional player.

“I would understand if Modric was a little bit upset if he is not playing. Everyone thinks he is at the end of his career, but I think he doesn’t agree with that. He looks to be well, fresh. He’s got legs. He doesn’t seem like he is 38.”

Lucas Vazquez had a goal disallowed for the hosts before Modric struck decisively.

The Real full-back’s effort was chalked off when a lengthy video assistant referee (VAR) review concluded that home defender Nacho had fouled forward Youssef En-Nesyri in the build-up.

Federico Valverde also went close for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, hitting the post early in the second half, although in the main a Sevilla defence that was well marshalled by former Real great Sergio Ramos stood firm.

Second-placed Barcelona are on 57 points, with Girona a point further back in third. Girona play their game in hand on the top two against Rayo Vallecano on Monday (20:00 GMT).