Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema rescued his side again by scoring two late goals to snatch a 2-1 win at home to Elche in La Liga on Saturday and revive his side’s hopes of catching leaders Atletico Madrid.
Elche took a shock lead just after the hour mark with a bullet header from Dani Calvo which crashed against the bar and over the line, after both sides had strong penalty claims waved away.
Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane threw midfield duo Toni Kroos and Luka Modric on immediately after the goal and the change soon paid off.
Kroos played a short corner to Modric and the Croatian fed Benzema, who barely had to jump to head home in the 73rd minute.
Benzema, who last week struck late to grab a 1-1 draw away to leaders Atletico Madrid, then found the winner in stoppage time with a stunning strike just inside the area, lashing the ball first time in off the far post.
Benzema’s double was all the more impressive as he had been on the wrong end of a hefty challenge from Guido Carrillo moments before his first goal, setting off alarm bells three days before Real’s Champions League last-16 second leg at home to Atalanta.
The victory lifted Real into second in the standings on 57 points, five behind leaders Atletico Madrid who visit Getafe later on Saturday and one ahead of third-placed Barcelona, who host Huesca on Monday.
Real welcomed back captain Sergio Ramos for the first time since undergoing knee surgery two months ago but Zidane opted to start without Modric and Kroos.
Real controlled the first half without causing Elche too many problems in the box but looked on course for a fourth home defeat in the league this season when Calvo’s thumping header put the struggling visitors in front.
Real felt they should have had a penalty earlier in the second half for a foul on Ramos which was given against the defender.
Elche meanwhile could have been awarded a spot-kick moments before they scored for a foul on Carrillo, who was ruled offside but replays showed he was in fact onside, although the play was not reviewed by officials.
Once Benzema had pulled Real level, they went all out to find a winner.
Casemiro spurned two chances in quick succession while defender Nacho was ideally placed to score from inside the box but blasted his shot at Elche keeper Edgar Badia.
Eden Hazard came off the bench to return for the first time in six months but Real’s record signing had little impact.
Luckily for Zidane’s side, they could rely on the talismanic Benzema, who won the game with his 15th league goal of the season.
Lewandowski landmark goal lifts Bayern to win
Bayern Munich cruised to a 3-1 victory at Werder Bremen on Saturday with striker Robert Lewandowski climbing to second place in the Bundesliga’s all-time scorers list as the champions opened up a five-point lead at the top.
The 32-year-old Lewandowski, the 2020 FIFA World Player, twice hit the woodwork early in the second half before tapping in for to make it 3-0 and join Klaus Fischer on 268 Bundesliga goals, second on the all-time scorers list only to Gerd Mueller and his astonishing 365-goal record.
Lewandowski needed 345 matches to reach that mark compared to Fischer’s 535 league games.
The Bavarians, who welcome Lazio for their Champions League last 16 second leg on Wednesday, were never troubled by the hosts, and Leon Goretzka headed them into the lead in the 22nd minute.
Thomas Mueller then delivered his second assist of the day and his 13th of the season in the 35th for Serge Gnabry to slot in.
“We were a bit fresher after the first 10 minutes,” said Mueller, whose good form could see result in a return for the German national team after more than two years.
“In the second half we not only controlled the game but created a lot of chances. I think we should have scored several more goals. We also hit the woodwork so the win is absolutely deserved.
“Lewy (Lewandowski) knows his status in the team. He fights in every game for his goals for the team.”
Lewandowski, who has also played for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, was determined to join the score sheet after the break. But in the 54th minute he headed onto the post and four minutes later fired onto the crossbar.
Twice more Werder keeper Jiri Pavlenka denied him with superb saves.
But a lucky bounce in the 67th allowed the Poland forward to tap in from close range and take his league tally this season to 32 goals, one step closer to Gerd Mueller’s league record of 40 goals in a season dating back to the 1971-72 campaign.
Lewandowski hit the post a third time in the 78th minute and Niclas Fuellkrug scored a late goal for the hosts as Bayern moved up to 58 points, with second-placed RB Leipzig, on 53, in action against Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.
VfL Wolfsburg climbed to third spot on 48 points with a 5-0 demolition of basement club Schalke 04.
Source: Read Full Article