Real Madrid were fortunate on Friday as they left it late to defeat 10-man Real Valladolid in their first game after the World Cup.
Karim Benzema scored a late double as Real Madrid snatched a 2-0 victory at 10-man Real Valladolid on Friday to leapfrog Barcelona at the top of LaLiga.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side looked set to be frustrated at the Jose Zorrilla Stadium in their first game after the World Cup, with Benzema squandering a gilt-edged first-half chance.
However, the France international – who missed Qatar 2022 through injury – made amends as he converted from the penalty spot with seven minutes remaining before sealing victory six minutes later.
Valladolid saw forward Sergio Leon sent off for dissent after the award of Benzema’s penalty as Madrid dug deep to go one point clear of Barca, who play their game in hand at home to Espanyol on Saturday.
Madrid’s appeals for a 10th-minute penalty were dismissed despite Javi Sanchez appearing to handle on the line after blocking a drilled effort from Marco Asensio.
Benzema inexplicably blazed over from six yards after Jordi Masip parried Vinicius Junior’s strike, before Thibaut Courtois expertly denied Alvaro Aguado prior to half-time.
Antonio Rudiger wastefully headed wide from Toni Kroos’ corner four minutes into the second half as Madrid continued to struggle against the well-drilled hosts.
Courtois then produced another fine stop from Leon’s header, while Masip pushed Benzema’s low curler around the post.
However, Madrid’s big chance came when Sanchez was adjudged to have handled from the resulting corner by VAR, with Benzema firing into the bottom-left corner from 12 yards after Leon was dismissed for his protests to the officials.
The Madrid striker made sure of all three points after a selfless Eduardo Camavinga pass allowed him to finish past Masip.