ELCHE — Karim Benzema celebrated his Ballon d’Or win this week with a goal in Real Madrid’s confortable 3-0 win over Elche on Wednesday night, in which they also had three goals disallowed for offside.
Fede Valverde and Marco Asensio scored the other goals as the La Liga leaders cruised to victory.
Benzema, though, was the star turn: he hit the back of the net three times in total but had two scratched off while David Alaba also had an effort ruled out.
It has been a spectacular week for Carlo Ancelotti’s side. They sealed qualification to the Champions League last 16, beat Barcelona in the Clasico, saw Benzema crowned the world’s best player, and then moved six points clear at the top of La Liga with this comfortable victory.
Fresh from the glitzy Paris gala on Monday night, reigning champions Madrid brought that same swagger to Spain’s east coast and bottom-of-the-table Elche never stood a chance.
Benzema appeared to send Madrid ahead in the sixth minute after a slick team move but Vinicius Junior had edged offside in the build-up and it was disallowed.
Los Blancos did not have to wait long for the opener, with Valverde continuing his own superb form by blasting home from the edge of the box.
Madrid had picked Elche apart and only a desperate block denied Benzema, but the visitors kept the move alive and when the ball broke to Valverde, he netted his sixth goal of the season across all competitions.
The Uruguayan netted in Sunday’s Clasico win over Barcelona and has become a key offensive weapon for his team, even though on this occasion he was deployed in midfield, instead of on the right wing.
Alaba had a goal ruled out later on in a half in which Madrid dominated, but Elche started the second period strongly, with Lucas Boye slapping a volley narrowly over.
At the other end Benzema bit back with a long-range strike which Edgar Badia beat away. The Elche goalkeeper has made more saves than any of his counterparts in La Liga, and this was another busy night.
The officials in the VAR booth were kept busy too, with Benzema seeing another goal disallowed for offside. After 75 minutes Benzema eventually got his goal, his fifth of the season in La Liga, set-up by a sweet backheel from Rodrygo to complete a one-two.
Madrid substitute Marco Asensio wrapped up the victory in the final stages with a hooked finish from Rodrygo’s cross.
Elsewhere Mikel Merino’s strike earned Real Sociedad a 1-0 win over Real Mallorca to help the Basque side displace Atletico Madrid and move third.
Imanol Alguacil’s team have won eight consecutive games between La Liga and the Europa League, despite losing striker Alexander Isak to Newcastle and then his replacement Umar Sadiq to a bad knee injury for the season.
However the match was overshadowed by the news that a Real Sociedad supporter had died. A man was taken away before the game started on a stretcher, with the club later confirming he passed away.
Real Betis, fifth, could only draw 0-0 at 19th place Cadiz, while Real Valladolid thrashed Celta Vigo 4-1. — AFP