Real see off Valencia to extend LaLiga lead


Vinicius Junior scored twice as Real Madrid beat Valencia 4-1 at the Bernabeu on Saturday to go eight points clear at the top of the LaLiga table.

Madrid dominated the first half but were unable to break the deadlock until Karim Benzema, who also scored twice, dispatched a 43rd minute penalty, awarded after Casemiro went down in the box.

Vinicius doubled Madrid’s lead after half-time, slotting past goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen following exchanging passes with Benzema, and grabbed another with his head not long afterwards when Valencia’s keeper spilled Marco Asensio’s shot.

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Goncalo Guedes pulled a goal back for Valencia as Madrid held on for the win, and the result leaves the leaders on 49 points, eight ahead of second-placed Sevilla, who play on Sunday.

A strong Real Madrid starting XI saw Benzema, Luka Modric, Thibaut Courtois and Ferland Mendy return to the side after missing their midweek Copa del Rey win at Alcoyano.

Madrid’s best early opportunity fell to Eder Militao, whose powerful header was saved by Cillessen. Goncalo Guedes tested Courtois from distance at the other end, before Vinicius headed Mendy’s cross wide.

Asensio saw a low shot from a narrow angle saved and Modric hit the bar with a fierce curling shot, before Benzema opened the scoring from the spot. Valencia gave the ball away at the back and when Casemiro raced forwards into the box, he went down after contact with defender Omar Alderete.

Benzema confidently placed his penalty in the top corner for his 16th league goal of the season — and his 300th goal for Real Madrid — to ensure that the home side went in ahead at half-time.

Vinicius made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute, assisted by Benzema and some poor Valencia defending. He scored again nine minutes later, a straightforward headed finish after Cillessen palmed Asensio’s shot into his path.

There were chances at both ends — Courtois saved superbly from Daniel Wass, and Asensio’s goalbound shot was blocked by defender Jose Gaya — before Valencia were awarded a penalty in the 75th minute for a shirt pull by Mendy.

Courtois kept out Guedes’ initial effort but the Portugal forward headed the rebound into the net to ensure Madrid couldn’t relax in the closing stages.

Benzema added his second late on to put the game further out of reach for the visitos.

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