Benzema rallies Madrid ahead of Sevilla, closer to the league title
MADRID (AP) — Karim Benzema has once again made headlines.
He scored in second-half stoppage time on Sunday as Real Madrid rallied to a 3-2 win at Sevilla and moved closer to winning the Spanish league title for the second times in three seasons.
Madrid conceded two goals four minutes apart in the first half but came back after half-time to win and open a 15-point lead at the top of the table with six rounds remaining.
“Everyone is waiting for Madrid to stumble but Madrid don’t stumble,” said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti. “Madrid has heart, character and quality. It was a deserved victory. The league is not over yet, there are several matches left, but it was a big boost for us today.
Madrid’s closest challenger is Barcelona, who have two games in progress, including against relegation-threatened Cadiz on Monday.
Third-placed Sevilla could have cut Madrid’s gap to nine points with a victory at their Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán stadium, but instead saw their 15-game unbeaten streak at home this season come to an end.
Benzema scored his 15th goal in the last 10 games with a shot from close range after a pass from Rodrygo two minutes after stoppage time.
The French striker is the top scorer in the Spanish league with 25 goals and is enjoying one of his best seasons yet with Madrid. He had already been decisive in recent Champions League matches against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea, being crucial in Madrid’s run to the semi-finals.
Sevilla looked on their way to a comfortable win after opening the scoring with Ivan Rakitic’s low free kick in the 21st and adding a lead with Erik Lamela’s goal from inside the box on a breakaway at the 25th.
But Madrid dominated after that and went close with Rodrygo’s goal from close range after a pass from Dani Carvajal in the 50th minute. Carvajal then set up Nacho Fernández’s equalizer from inside the box in the 82nd minute, moments after Nacho entered the game.
Madrid striker Vinícius Júnior was denied a goal in the 74th for a hand ball after a video review that lasted several minutes.
Sevilla have been hit hard by injuries and have won just one of their last six league matches. He remained level on points with Barcelona and fourth-placed Atlético Madrid.
ATLETICO WINS AGAIN
Yannick Carrasco converted a penalty kick 10 minutes into stoppage time as Atlético beat Espanyol 2-1 to end their three-game losing streak and strengthen their grip on fourth place.
Carrasco scored from the penalty spot in the final leg of the match at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium to give Atlético a three-point cushion over fifth-placed Real Betis, which came down Friday against sixth-placed Real Sociedad.
Atlético’s penalty was awarded following a lengthy video review to determine whether the ball touched the hand of Espanyol striker Raúl de Tomás inside the box.
Carrasco had already scored to put Atlético ahead in the 52nd minute, while De Tomás equalized for the visitors in the 74th.
Atlético played a man in the 71st after midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia was sent off for a handball which earned him a second yellow card. Espanyol equalized from the ensuing free kick with a De Tomás shot past Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
Atlético had not won for three matches. He hadn’t scored a goal during that streak either, including in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at home to Manchester City in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals, when he was eliminated 1-0 on aggregate after losing the first leg in England. .
Espanyol had won three of their last five games, with one loss and one draw. He is in 11th place.
Athletic Bilbao lost 2-0 at home to Celta Vigo to lose ground in the fight for a place in European competition next season.
Iago Aspas and Fran Beltrán scored first-half goals for 11th-placed Celta, who are winless in four matches.
Athletic had not lost for three matches. He remained eighth, four points behind seventh-placed Villarreal.
RISING LAST STEP
Levante left last place with a 4-1 rout against Granada, who played with 10 men from the 54th after Germán Sánchez Barahona was sent off with a second yellow card.
It was the second victory in the last three games for Levante, who have collected 14 points from their last nine league games, with four wins, two draws and three defeats. He then hosts Sevilla.
Granada suffered their second successive defeat and remained in 16th place, one point from the relegation zone. He then visits Atlético.
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