Real Madrid beat Elche as Ballon d’Or winner Benzema scores

Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema scored one goal but two others were overruled by VAR as Real Madrid defeated bottom-placed Elche 3-0 in LaLiga on Wednesday.

Federico Valverde and Marco Asensio also scored goals in Madrid’s comfortable win, which also batted classic rivals Barcelona earlier this week.

In-form Valverde gave Real the lead in the 11th minute with a brilliant technical shot from the edge of the box. Benzema extended Real’s lead in the 75th minute after a clean interaction with Rodrygo, who assisted Benzema with a skilful heel pass.

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The defending champions dominated the game throughout, creating multiple chances alongside the three tries ruled out, one by David Alaba and two by Benzema.

Substitute Asensio added the third goal with a minute remaining, firing in from close range following a Rodrygo cross.

GO TO: Player Ratings | Best/worst performance | Highlights and Notable Moments | Quotes after the game | Key Statistics | Upcoming appointments

Fast reaction

1. no mailclassicBallon d’Or dips for Madrid and Benzema

Three days after Madrid’s biggest game of the season so far and two days after the pivotal moment in Karim Benzema’s career so far, both the team and their star player faced Elche with an intensity and determination worthy of the greatest occasions.

There was no sign of the relaxation that would be expected after a 3-1 draw classic Victory over Barcelona or the personal triumph of Benzema’s long-awaited Ballon d’Or crowning. Instead, Elche was subjected to an attack that shook the bottom of the table. First, Benzema’s beautiful team goal was disallowed in the 6th minute, then Federico Valverde found his striker five minutes later and 15 minutes later David Alaba completed an even better move only for Benzema to be sidelined.

At half-time it was remarkable that Elche were still in the game despite being down on goals. Benzema was caught offside again after an hour’s play and when he finally scored in the 75th minute – set up by Rodrygo’s back heel – there was even time for a joke with referee Jesus Gil Manzano about another possible offside. This was a relentless performance from Madrid and Benzema. Both will take a few breaks this season.

2. Valverde’s goals just keep coming

Whatever kind of player you made Valverde – a deep, holding midfielder like Casemiro perhaps, or a hyperactive box-to-box player in the form of Steven Gerrard – you probably didn’t think he would develop into one gate machine. Valverde has now scored six goals this season – only Vinicius Junior has scored more for Madrid – that’s as many as in the past four years.

He scored in three straight games in September and now he has scored a goal on Sunday classic with the opener here. Carlo Ancelotti said earlier this season that if Valverde doesn’t hit double digits, he should tear up his coaching license. He’s already halfway through. It’s remarkable how many of Valverde’s goals come from outside the box and he can also score with both feet, as demonstrated by this left-footed shot. He could have had another late on when he charged into the box only to be thwarted by an exceptional save from Edgar Badia.

Toni Kroos considers himself one of the three best players in the world at the moment. That’s maybe a bit of an exaggeration. But not much. Valverde didn’t make the Ballon d’Or shortlist this year but don’t be surprised to see him there soon.

3. Lunin deserves credit before Courtois returns

That was likely the end of goalkeeper Andriy Lunin’s first-team run, with Thibaut Courtois expected to return from injury in time to face Sevilla this weekend. If so, then Lunin deserves credit for his admirable performance in the absence of the number one. He was actually so solid – although no doubt the defensive solidity of the team as a whole helped enormously – that Courtois’ absence was hardly felt.

Above all, a save here, a header stop by Carlos Clerc in the second half, brought the game into balance. The 23-year-old kept clean sheets against Getafe and Elche and the team came out of their time between the posts at the top of LaLiga and qualified for the Champions League round of 16. Whenever Lunin’s next opportunity presents itself, he’s shown he’s ready to take it.

Player Ratings

moose: Edgar Badia 6; 5 Helibelton Palacios, 6 Gonzalo Verdu, 6 Pedro Bigas, 6 Carlos Clerc; Omar Maskarell 6; 5 Tete Morente, 6 Raúl Guti, 5 Pere Milla, 6 Nicolas Mercau; Luke Boye6.
Subtitle: Josan 5, Gerard Gumbau 5, Ezequiel Ponce 5, Domingos Quina 6.

Real Madrid: Andriy Lunin 8; Dani Carvajal 7, Eder Militao 7, Antonio Ruediger 7, David Alaba 7; Toni Kroos (7), Federico Valverde (8), Luka Modric (7); Rodrygo turns 8, Vinicius Junior 7, Karim Benzema 9.
Subtitle: Aurelien Tchouameni (7), Eduardo Camavinga (6), Marco Asensio (7), Lucas Vazquez (6), Nacho (6).

Best and worst performers

BEST: Karim Benzema, Real Madrid.
He was back at his best and could have scored a hat-trick were it not for those narrow – but correct – offside decisions.

WORST: Helibelton Palacios, Elche.
Neither of the Elche defenders had an enjoyable evening against a flowing Madrid attack, but Palacios was probably the worst of them.

Highlights and notable moments

How do you celebrate after seeing two goals overruled by VAR? By signaling for it yourself! Well done by Benzema.

And then a Zen-like (or Haaland-like) celebration for Valverde after his stunning goal.

All in all, a solid performance from the champions.

After the game: what the managers, players said

Valverde on his scoring chances: “[Ancelotti] said I had to score 10 goals [this season]. I’m focused on doing it, it’s a good kind of pressure. I don’t want him to have to retire as a manager! It helped me feel safe in front of goal.”

Ancelotti on playing so soon after classic: “I was worried about this game, it was important because after classic you might think the level could drop, I wanted to rotate but didn’t want to give them any excuses, the team played well, concentrated, attacking was very good, we had a lot of mobility. But the game was open until the 70th minute, they could have equalized.”

Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

– Karim Benzema (224) is now three goals behind Alfredo Di Stéfano (227) in sixth place on the all-time LaLiga top scorers list. The Top 5? Lionel Messi (474), Cristiano Ronaldo (311), Telmo Zarra (251), Hugo Sanchez (234) and Raúl (228).

– Carlo Ancelotti managed his 124th LaLiga game today and, with Claudio Ranieri, broke the most by an Italian manager.

– Elche, without a win in 10 games at the start of the season, faces a serious struggle to stay up. The only team to survive such a streak and remain in the top division was Real Valladolid in 1982/83 (13 games without a win).


Real Madrid: Back at the Bernabeu for another LaLiga game on Saturday when Sevilla come to town. Then back to the Champions League with a trip to RB Lepzig next Tuesday.

moose: The search for their first La Liga win continues, this time against Espanyol on Sunday. Real Madrid beat Elche as Ballon d’Or winner Benzema scores

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