La Liga: Benzema brace saves Real Madrid’s title hopes
Madrid, March 14 (IANS): Karim Benzema was once again Real Madrid’s savior as the striker scored two late goals to keep their slim hopes of winning the La Liga title alive with a 2-1 win at home to Elche.
Elche once again showed how much they have improved since Fran Escriba returned as coach and Dani Calvo’s 61st minute header off the underside of the bar gave them the lead against a lackluster Real Madrid, who once again failed to perform against a rival in the bottom half of the table on Saturday, Xinhua news reports.
Sergio Ramos was back in Real Madrid’s starting 11 after a minor knee operation, while Zinedine Zidane rested midfielders Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ahead of next week’s Champions League tie at home to Atalanta.
However, Vinicius Jr, Fede Valverde and Isco, who were given a rare starting chance, all failed to chance to shine, as Madrid dominated but only created one chance in the first half as Benzema failed to score from the edge of the area.
The script was similar in the second half before Calvo’s header put the visitors ahead and Zidane reacted quickly by bringing Modric and Kroos into the game.
The pair quickly combined after Kroos played a short corner to Modric, whose cross was perfectly headed home by Benzema in the 73rd minute.
Eden Hazard returned after his latest muscle injury following the goal, but Elche looked as if they would hold on for a vital point until injury-time when Benzema netted the winner.
The Frenchman collected a chested pass from Rodrygo before firing across the face of goal and in off the post to keep all three points in Madrid.