laying his first match since his World Cup expedients were dashed by an injury, Karim Benzema came to the deliverance of Real Madrid with a brace of late pretensions to catch a 2- 0 palm at 10- man Valladolid on Friday. Benzema had a restrained caching in his first competitive match since November 2 following injuries that had limited his vacuity for his club and eventually sidelined him for his France at soccer’s elite competition.
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But the Ballon d’Or winner came through in the final twinkles to give Carlo Ancelotti’s side the three points it demanded to provisionally move to the top of the Spanish league standings.
Madrid also reckoned on goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to keep the score deadlocked as it plodded to produce chances in its first game since the league broke for seven weeks for the event in Qatar.
Valladolid defended well and hovered on the break at its José Zorrilla colosseum until the game eventually swung in Madrid’s favor when the videotape adjunct adjudicator spotted a handball in the area by protector Javi Sanchez.
Benzema stepped up and coolly slotted his penalty kick into the left corner as goalkeeper Jordi Masip fell the other way to snare the lead in the 83rd nanosecond.
Valladolid’s chances of hunting for a late equalizer were hurt when striker Sergio Leon, one of its most incisive players, was shown a direct red card supposedly for using unhappy language while protesting the penalty decision.
Benzema also got his brace in the 89th after a pass by cover Eduardo Camavinga.
“ Benzema played veritably well given that he’d slightly played in the last three months, ” Courtois said. “ perhaps he was lacking a bit of pace. I go the Karim of last time would have scored indeed more pretensions, but it’s good for him to get this double. ”
Before Benzema put Madrid ahead, Courtois made two great saves to deny León and midfielder, Álvaro Aguado. Courtois used a one-handed diving save to stop Aguado’s long-range strike in the first half. He also got low to turn back León’s title in the 68th.
“ Courtois ’ saves were decisive, ” said Valladolid trainer Pacheta Martín, whose platoon slid into 15th place.
Madrid moved one point ahead of Barcelona at the top of the standings before Xavi Hernández’s side plays a derby against Espanyol on Saturday.
Before onset, a moment of silence was held in memory of Brazil great Pelé, who failed on Thursday. Ronaldo, former Brazil and Madrid star and the current proprietor of Valladolid, stood alongside Real Madrid chairman Florentino Pérez in the daises during the homage. Brazil forward Vinícius Júnior closed his eyes and lifted his head overhead in midfield with the other players.
Sevilla trainer Jorge Sampaoli caught his attacking scheme after playmaker Isco Alarcón, who had been used as a “ false nine ” before the World Cup break, left the club by a collective agreement last week. In his place, Sampaoli started his two big strikers, Youssef En- Nesyri and Rafa Mir.
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Celta’s Gabri Veiga minced Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou in the 33rd after Iago Aspas met his run with an impeccably weighted pass after Veiga had recovered the ball. It was the 20- time-old Veiga’s fourth thing of the season.
After Sevilla failed to induce scoring chances in the first half, Sampaoli transferred on Erik Lamela for En- Nesyri at halftime.
Moments after Celta’s goalkeeper pushed Lamela’s shot onto the post, Kike Salas headed in the performing corner kick to position the score in the 54th.