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Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia: Karim Benzema stars in counter-attacking masterclass


A Karim Benzema brace – including arguably the best goal anywhere in the world since the lockdown – ensured Real Madrid are still breathing down the necks of Barcelona in La Liga.

On a high-tempo, high-quality encounter – in which Marco Asensio also scored with his first touch of the season – Los Blancos closed the gap to two points with nine games to go.

Jasper Cillessen stuck a leg out to deny former Chelsea man Eden Hazard an early breakthrough after a perfect through pass from Benzema.

Valencia thought they had taken what would have been a deserved lead inside 20 minutes as Rodrigo fired past Thibaut Courtois.

But referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez – having consulted a replay – ruled that an offside Maxi Gomez had obstructed Raphael Varane.

Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio were on the scoresheet

Rodrigo – a former Bolton loanee – had already come inches from an opener when Courtois tipped his low strike onto the woodwork.

The visitors had many of the best chances in an end-to-end first period but could not sustain their attacking threat after the interval.

Hazard continued to combine neatly with Benzema, whose precise finish into the bottom left corner put Real ahead on the hour mark.

Zinedine Zidane’s side toyed with Valencia, who found themselves forced to drive forwards if they wanted to salvage at least a point.

Rodrigo’s goal was eventually disallowed for offside

However, at the other end, Asensio assured the hosts of victory by scoring within seconds of coming on with a stylish left-footed volley.

Benzema crowned the night with a possible goal of the season, receiving an Asensio flick on the run and volleying in with his weaker foot.

Valencia’s Kang-in Lee inflicted further damage on his own team by picking up a red card for hacking at Sergio Ramos off the ball.

The pressure in a tight title race pivots back to Barcelona, having briefly gone five points clear on Tuesday with a win over Levante.

Valencia’s Lee Kang-In saw red

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Messi and company are again in action away to Sevilla on Friday night – a game in which the Argentine could net his 700 goal.

Real Madrid travel to the Basque Country next to face Real Sociedad on Sunday night, right after Valencia play at home to Osasuna.

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