Kareem Benzema helped Real Madrid come one step closer to opposing Lionel Messi’s Barcelona on Friday. Benzema scored a goal and led Alawes 2–0 to lead Madrid and only restored a four-point lead over Barcelona in the Spanish League with three rounds.
Benzema hit a penalty kick in the 11th minute and assisted Marco Asensio in the 50th and ensured an eighth straight win as La Liga resumed play after playing for three months due to an epidemic. Benzema scored four goals during the winning streak and scored a superb goal for Cassimiro to take a 1-0 win at Espanyol three rounds ago.
Madrid will finish the season with matches against Granada, Villarreal, and Legnes. Barcelona will have games against Valladolid, Ossuna and Alaves before the conclusion of the competition on 19 July.
If they finish the level on points, Madrid place the tiebreaker on head-to-head goals. Nevertheless, Madrid coach Zinedine Zidan refused to say that the league was a defeat for Madrid.
“Anything can happen until it’s over,” Zidan said. “It’s a good result and how the three of us need to go.”
Zidane had to serve with Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal for suspension and Marcello and Nacho Fernandez.
While the bottom on the left was held by veteran Rafael Vern and occasional starter Ferland Mendy, the right went on his ninth league start of the campaign and in Mildao with forward Lucas Vezczek.
The new-look defense maintained a fifth consecutive clean sheet for Madrid.
Vezcze’s inexperience in defense showed three minutes into the match when Edgar Mendez dribbled past him and sent a cross to the second post, where Joselu Sanmartin knocked the ball out of the bar. Cassimiro then had to block a follow-up header of a rebound by Lucas Perez.
“We were entitled to that initial goal,” said new coach Alaves Muniz. “You can’t miss those kinds of opportunities and still have a chance to get the match out. (Against Madrid) you have to take advantage of the opportunities you get.”
Mendy, who can play more after Marcello, was sidelined with a muscle injury early Friday, noted Madrid’s first goal. He breaks into the area and is trapped by a clumsy tackle attempt by Gio Navarro. With Ramos, Madrid’s regular penalty taker, unavailable, Benzema converted. His 18th league goal of the season only ranks Messi 22nd.
Alves tried to rally through Oliver Burke. The Scottish forward saved Madrid goalkeeper Thibut Corto in the 27th. Minutes later he overtook Vezquez and Militão, only to see Sanmartin send his dangerous pass back to the center of the area.
Madrid took full control shortly after halftime when Benzema broke Alaves’ offside net to reach Rodrigo’s threes-ball. Benzema pulled off Golio Roberto Jiménez and lay down to tap into the open net for Asencio. The initial decision to review a video had to reverse that Benzema was upside down.
Playing his first match under Allis Muniz, who eliminated Asier Garitano after five consecutive defeats in the team. The new defeat left Basque Country Club three points above the charged zone.
The match was played without fans at Madrid’s little Alfredo di Stefano Stadium, while Santiago Bernabeu Stadium is being renovated.
Domingos Duterte scored the winning goal by keeping the Granada opener alive for his side qualifying for the Europa League after a 3–2 win at Real Sociedad.
Grenada was level with Valencia on points, and one point behind Sosidad. The trio are in contention with Getafe and Villarreal for a spot in the Europa League.
Grenada hosted Madrid on Monday.