La Liga - Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano – Real Madrid 3 (Benzema 61’, 86’, Asensio 74’) Valencia 0
Marco Asensio scored with his first touch after making his long-awaited return from injury on a night that also saw Karim Benzema score a goal-of-the-season contender in a 3-0 win for Real Madrid over Valencia.
The pressure was on Zinedine Zidane’s side coming into match with Barca building a five-point lead at the top of La Liga with their win over Leganes on Tuesday, but the hosts responded emphatically at the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano to close the gap back to two points.
Having missed all of the 2019/20 season so far after suffering an ACL injury in pre-season last year, the 24-year-old came off the bench in the second half to find the back of the net 31 seconds later, swiping a volley home after good work from Ferland Mendy.
Valencia had a Rodrigo goal ruled out after a VAR review when Maxi Gomez was adjudged to have been offside in the build up with the Spanish international after striking the woodwork in the first half.
Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema linked up nicely for the opener, with the Belgian feeding the Frenchman for a cool finish after a rapid counter attack, but the latter produced an even greater moment four minutes from the end.
Benzema controlled a pass with a right-foot flick over a Valencia defender before lashing home a volley with his left foot from 16 yards out, putting the finishing touches on a convincing 3-0 victory over Valencia, who finished with 10 men after the dismissal of Lee, that keeps Los Blancos on the tail of Barcelona at the top of La Liga.
TALKING POINT - Things are finally starting to click for Real Madrid
Benzema is scoring goals, Luka Modric looks back to his best, Hazard is showing signs of finally growing accustomed to his new surroundings and Asensio has a smile back on his face again after a year out of the game. All of a sudden, things are clicking for Real Madrid. They might still be two points behind Barcelona at the top of La Liga, but Los Blancos might be the ones with the momentum right now.
Marco Asensio, Real Madrid
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH - Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Benzema has been the main man for Real Madrid since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo two summers ago, but the French striker now has a partner to ease the attacking burden. The return of Hazard has liberated Benzema, meaning he can focus on proving cutting edge in the final third. This was one of the 32-year-old’s best performances of the season.
13’ Big chance for Hazard! The Belgian probably should have opened the scoring for Real Madrid, with the pass coming from Benzema. That released Hazard through, but Cillessen makes the save with his feet!
17’ Off the post! Valencia come so close to scoring against the run of play! Rodrigo was left free to run on to a pass in behind, the angle was tight, but the forward smashes a low drive off the base of the far post!
21’ GOOOOOO… NO! The deadlock has been broken by Rodrigo… or has it? Soler played a pass into the Real Madrid box, it picked up a deflection and fell into the path of the Valencia forward who made no mistake in putting a finish past Courtois and into the back of the net! But was it offside? VAR says yes!
31’ Carvajal was through! The Real Madrid right back bundles through the Valencia defence with the ball at his feet and gets the shot away from close range, but Cillessen saves with his foot.
61’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Valencia: Finally, the deadlock is broken and Benzema strokes a finish into the back of the net! Modric played a one-two with Hazard, that allowed the Belgian to set up his French teammate and Benzema made no mistake in finding the bottom corner!
75’ GOAL! Real Madrid 2-0 Valencia: Would you believe it? What a moment! Amazing! Asensio scores with his FIRST TOUCH after a year out with injury! Mendy got to the byline, crossed for his teammate who swiped an excellent volleyed finish into the back of the net!
86’ GOAL! Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia: What. A. Goal! Sensational! Real Madrid moved the ball forward in an excellent passing move, the cross came in for Benzema, he controlled with his left to lose the Valencia defender and then LASHED a volley into the top corner of the net! Wow!
89’ SENT OFF! Valencia will finish the match with 10 men after some real petulance from Lee. He had one, two, three swipes at Ramos, giving the referee no choice but to show him a red card.
Marco Asensio scored just 31 seconds after coming on as a substitute, the fastest goal by a Real Madrid substitute in La Liga match since 2005/06.
Karim Benzema has now scored 243 goals in all competitions for Real Madrid, passing Ferenc Puskas (242) the club’s fifth all time top scorer.