MADRID ( Associated Press) – Karim Benzema once again had good reason to smile after weeks of uncertainty and illness that ended his ability to play at the World Cup in Qatar.
The French star scored a late-minute double to give Real Madrid a 2-0 win in Valladolid on Friday as the Spanish league restarted after a 50-day World Cup strike.
Benzema broke a 0–0 lead with a penalty in the 82nd minute, after referee José Luis Munuera signaled a handball in the area with the help of the video referee.
The current Ballon d’Or winner signed his second double of the course after defining his compatriot Eduardo Camavinga on 88 with a shot from the heart of the area.
The win left the reigning La Liga champions with 38 points, awaiting the duel Barcelona will play in their round-15 tie against Espanyol on Saturday.
Karim is fine. It lacked some rhythm. Last year’s Karim would have scored a few more goals… We have to keep the pressure on the leader”, said Merengue goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Benzema hit the ground running again after not featuring in an official match since 19 October, following muscle soreness that forced him to be dropped from the French squad ahead of the World Cup. With this double he reached seven goals on the course.
The game was halted for Madrid until defender Antonio Rudiger headed in a cross from a corner kick in the closing stages, which Javi Sánchez deflected off his arm, giving Munuera the opportunity for VAR to review the action. found.
Before that moment, the meringues had suffered greatly. Thanks to two saves by Courtois – a cross shot from Álvaro Aguado late in the first half and a diving header from Sergio Leone in the second half – they were not at a disadvantage.
León was sent off for claiming a penalty, leaving Valladolid in numerical inferiority, who were in 15th place with 17 points.
Madrid rested two regular starters in Croatian Luka Modric and Frenchman Aurélien Tchoumeny after their performances in Qatar. And a few hours before the duel, Brazilian Eder Militao was ruled out because he was unwell.
For the Meringues it was the first of 26 games in five competitions (League, Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup, Club World Cup and Champions League) until 26 February.
A minute’s silence was observed before the start of the match and for the rest of the day in Spain in memory of Brazilian star Pele, who died on Thursday aged 82.
Seville, in a relief area
Kike Salas scored as Sevilla saved a 1-1 draw at Celta de Vigo, but did not avoid slipping into the relegation zone.
Gabriel Veiga put the Galician side ahead after 33 minutes. The result left him in 16th place with 13 units.
Salas finished the match on 54, helping Argentina’s side led by coach Jorge Sampaoli to 18th place with 12 points.
In another result, Getafe beat Mallorca 2–0 under Mexican coach Javier Aguirre.
The entire Community of Madrid rose to 15th place with 17 points. Meanwhile, the Balearic team finished 11th with 19 units.
In another result, Cádiz drew 1–1 at home with 14th-ranked Almería before the final.