As Benzema looks on, Madrid beat Sevilla 3-1 to extend their lead


BARCELONA, Spain — Karim Benzema proudly showed off his Ballon d’Or award to supporters at the Santiago Bernabéu, then sat down to watch Real Madrid beat Sevilla 3-1 to extend their lead in the Spanish league on Saturday.

Benzema was kicked out of the match when the club said he was suffering from muscle fatigue. It seems that the striker, who won the prestigious individual football award Monday, redoubles caution to avoid any risk of injury which could compromise his participation with France in the world Cup in Qatar from less than a month.

Vinícius Júnior has scored twice for Madrid as the Brazilian winger continues to excel with and without Benzema playing alongside him.

Madrid extended their unbeaten streak to 16 games since the start of the season in all competitions and increased their lead at the summit to six points over Barcelona, ​​who face Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Luka Modric and former Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, both former Ballon d’Or winners, presented Benzema with his award in a ceremony before kick-off. The Madrid striker hoisted it high to receive applause from the fans, who turned out for the party and the game in the constant rain in the Spanish capital.

Modric then ensured that Madrid didn’t miss Benzema’s goals, scoring from an assist from Vinícius to give Madrid the lead five minutes into the game. Vinícius pounced on a bad pass from Gonzalo Montiel near the Sevilla area, battled back defenders and found Modric all alone at the far post to exploit.

While Vinícius squandered an opportunity to add a lead in the 44th – when he tried to round goalkeeper Yassine Bounou instead of shooting from close range – Sevilla were toothless with midfielder Isco Alarcón at the before as a “false nine”.

Sevilla had their fair share of possession but had no forwards in the box to feed. In the 45th, Jesús Navas drew the first save from Thibaut Courtois, who was back after missing six games with sciatic pain.

Jorge Sampaoli’s plan, however, started to work in the second half when the most of Sevilla’s midfielders, including Óliver Torres and Ivan Rakitic, and playmakers like Isco took control for half an hour. .

Montiel made up for his mistake by gaining possession and using the outside of his boot to slide a ball through Madrid’s well-positioned defensive line to meet Erik Lamela’s fine run. Lamela also showed his skill by sending a ball around Courtois from a tight angle with the toe of his boot to equalize in the 54th.

Isco then hit the side netting and Montiel set up Lamela to loop a ball just wide in the 60th.

But Carlo Ancelotti sent fresh legs in attack and a counter-attack sparked by substitute Marco Asensio saw Vinícius draw Bounou before pulling away for substitute Luas Vázquez to fire into an empty net in the 79th.

Federico Valverde added a third goal from distance two minutes later to put the result beyond doubt with the midfielder’s seventh goal in all competitions this season.

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