Benzema and Vini Jr. both bag braces as league leaders see off Valencia Real Madrid kicked off the new year at the Santiago Bernabéu with a convincing win over Valencia. The league leaders went ahead in the first half courtesy of a penalty by Karim Benzema, which was the Frenchman’s 300th goal as a madridista. In the second half Vini Jr. took centre stage, bagging a brace in the space of nine minutes to seal the victory. Valencia pulled a goal back on 75’ before Benzema scored another fine goal in the 89th minute, when he controlled the ball inside the area, span and fired in off the post.
The first goal of the clash came in the 43rd minute, but Madrid could have opened the scoring earlier on. With six minutes on the clock, the hosts carved out their first chance. Toni Kroos swung in a free-kick from the wing and Eder Militão’s downward header forced Cillessen into a smart save. On the quarter-of-an-hour mark, Carlo Ancelotti’s side kept piling forward and on 19’ Mendy’s cross was headed narrowly wide by Vini Jr. Fifteen minutes later, Luka Modrić lifted the ball over the defence for Marco Asensio, whose drilled-in strike was blocked by the keeper. Three minutes after, Lucas Vázquez crossed for Casemiro to head over from inside the six-yard box.
VIDEO.4-1: Benzema and Vini Jr. both bag braces as league leaders see off Valencia
The league leaders had done everything but score so far and they continued to enjoy good opportunities, Benzema trying his luck from range but just failing to find the target. With 41 minutes gone, Modrić picked up the ball on the edge of the box, dropped his shoulder and got off a left-footed strike which came within the width of the crossbar of finding the back of the net. It was the second time in as many games the Croatian maestro had been denied by the bar, but just as it looked as though the first half would finish goalless, Casemiro had other ideas. The Brazilian stole the ball back deep in the opposition half and was upended in the box by Alderete. Benzema stepped up to convert the resulting spot-kick and net his 300th madridista goal.
With the second half barely underway, Madrid doubled their advantage when Vini Jr. received the ball under pressure, played a one-two with Benzema and got the better of Cillessen in the one-on-one. The Brazilian had the bit between his teeth now, going on to complete his brace with 62 on the clock. Kroos recovered the ball, laid it to Benzema, who played it on to Asensio. His right-footed strike was well kept out by the goalkeeper, but Vini Jr. was on hand to nod home the rebound. Valencia’s response came just two minutes later, but Wass’ long-range volley was turned away by the outstretched Courtois. With 75 minutes gone, Guedes did cut the deficit, reacting quickest after Courtois had kept out his penalty. The best was saved until last though, when, with 89 minutes gone, Mendy crossed to Benzema in the box. The Frenchman brought the ball under his spell with his back to goal, swivelled and unleashed a sublime whipped effort into the back of the net. It was the perfect end to a fantastic performance by our boys, who embark on a new competition this Wednesday as the Spanish Super Cup gets underway in Riyadh.