Karim Benzema scores brace to help Madrid climb top

La Liga

Real Madrid defeated Real Valladolid 2-0 thanks to two goals from Karim Benzema in the final seven minutes of play.

The Ballon d’Or winner’s late goals put Madrid a point ahead of Barcelona in La Liga.

In the 83rd minute, Benzema, who was injured and missed the World Cup, gave Real the lead with a penalty following a hotly contested handball call.

Real Madrid players observe a minute of silence to pay tribute to Brazilian football legend Pele ahead of the Spanish League football match between Real Valladolid FC and Real Madrid CF at the Jose Zorilla stadium in Valladolid on December 30, 2022. (Photo by CESAR MANSO / AFP) (Photo by CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images)

Six minutes later, he calmly finished off Eduardo Camavinga’s ball to secure the victory.

Aurelien Tchouameni and Camavinga, the losing French finalist teams, sat on the bench for Real’s first game since the World Cup.

However, Luka Modric started after helping Croatia finish third, and Benzema, 35, was leading the line after missing out on Qatar due to a thigh injury the day before the tournament began.

The game remained scoreless until the last few minutes despite numerous scoring opportunities for both teams thanks to outstanding goalkeeping from Real‘s Thibaut Courtois and Valladolid’s Jordi Masip.

When it was determined that Javi Sanchez handled the ball, Real was given a penalty. The choice enraged the home players, and striker Sergio Leon was dismissed for disobedience.

Benzema easily converted the penalty despite the delay and confusion.

VALLADOLID, SPAIN – DECEMBER 30: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid during the La Liga Santander match between Real Valladolid v Real Madrid at the Estadio Nuevo Jose Zorrilla on December 30, 2022 in Valladolid Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Then, in the 89th minute, Benzema doubled the margin for the visitors by scoring a skillfully put goal from the edge of the box while going unnoticed.

Real overtakes Barcelona, who still has a game in hand and will visit Espanyol on Saturday, for the league lead.

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