Madrid rebound after Girona loss as Benzema rewrites history


MADRID — Karim Benzema scored a first-half hat trick as Real Madrid beat Almeria 4-2 in LaLiga on Saturday.

Benzema put Madrid forward simply 5 minutes in — Vinicius Junior offering the help — earlier than including a second on 17 minutes after Rodrygo‘s outrageous flick beat defender Samuel Costa, after which changing a penalty on 42 minutes when Lucas Vazquez was fouled by Largie Ramazani.

Almeria’s Lazaro pulled a aim again earlier than half-time, however Madrid prolonged their lead shortly after the break, Rodrygo scoring from distance earlier than Lucas Robertone’s header made it 4-2. Madrid may have added to their tally late on, as Benzema hit the publish and Eduardo Camavinga had a aim disallowed for offside.

Rapid response

1. Madrid bounce again after Girona shock

Madrid’s delight was stung by Tuesday’s shock 4-2 defeat at Girona — each the scoreline and the passive nature of their defending — and this was the emphatic response. From kickoff, the staff appeared decided to show that what occurred at Montilivi was a one-off, and that Madrid might be taking their remaining LaLiga video games critically.

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That angle was personified by the entrance three of Benzema, Vinicius and Rodrygo, who delivered a ruthless first-half show of dizzying velocity, gasp-inducing ability and razor-sharp ending. Almeria’s defence did not know what had hit them. In midfield, Dani Ceballos, Aurelien Tchouameni and Toni Kroos had been first to each ball.

Almeria’s two targets — each defensive lapses — had been the one bitter notice. Yes, Almeria are relegation candidates who’ve conceded 57 targets in LaLiga this season — solely bottom-of-the-table Elche have shipped extra — however that did not detract from what was a targeted, convincing efficiency. Madrid are again on observe forward of one of many largest weeks of their season.

2. Goal-scoring data maintain falling for Benzema

Another sport, one other report for Benzema. This hat trick took him to 236 LaLiga targets. He handed Alfredo di Stefano (227) in January and Raul Gonzalez (228) in February; now Hugo Sanchez (234) is the most recent Real Madrid legend to be overtaken within the league’s all-time goal-scoring charts. Only three gamers stay forward of him: Telmo Zarra, who scored 251 targets for Athletic Club within the Nineteen Forties and ’50s, and two names who want no introduction — Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Ignoring the historic dimension, there is a very present goal-scoring race for Benzema to remember, too. He now has 17 league targets this season, two fewer than Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski, who scored later within the day in Barcelona’s win over Real Betis.

Benzema would like to safe the Pichichi trophy — awarded to LaLiga’s high aim scorer — for one more 12 months, having gained it for the primary time in 2022.

It’s additionally price noting that the quantity of targets wanted to be topped Pichichi is not what it was once. Messi scored 50 league targets in 2011-12. Ronaldo scored 48 in 2014-15. Luis Suarez scored 40 in 2015-16. Benzema took high spot with 27 targets final season, and with six video games left to play, he may not attain that tally this time round.

3. Ceballos leads race to exchange Modric

Friday’s information that Luka Modric had suffered a thigh damage got here on the worst doable time for Madrid, with a Copa del Rey remaining towards Osasuna to return on May 6 and a Champions League semifinal first leg with Manchester City on May 9. Madrid aren’t definitively ruling Modric out of each these video games, however it’s a race towards time, and so this match — coupled with Tuesday’s journey to Real Sociedad — will probably serve as auditions for the midfielders hoping to step in for the veteran.

Carlo Ancelotti has recognized Ceballos as the more than likely candidate who can greatest approximate Modric’s superlative qualities. This was a persuasive efficiency. Only Kroos had extra touches and accomplished extra passes. Ceballos brings one thing of Modric’s busy vitality and drive, even when there is not fairly the identical finish product. With Camavinga doing such a formidable job at left-back, there’s much less competitors than there might need been, too.

Best and worst performers

BEST: Karim Benzema, Real Madrid. A medical hat trick, even when they weren’t essentially the most troublesome targets he’ll ever rating.

BEST: Rodrygo, Real Madrid. Provided the 2 moments of the match along with his help for Benzema’s second aim, and his personal strike after half-time.

BEST: Vinicius Junior, Real Madrid. A menace proper from the beginning. Created Benzema’s opener.

WORST: Largie Ramazani, Almeria. Committed an absurd foul to provide away a penalty.

WORST: Samuel Costa, Almeria. Was made to look a bit foolish by Rodrygo’s trickery.

WORST: Rodrigo Ely, Almeria. Given a torrid time by Benzema.

Highlights and notable moments

That? That help from Rodrygo? That’s intuition. You cannot train that.

After the match: What the gamers/managers stated

Rodrygo on his help: “It was a pass to myself. It was my only way out. It was nice, an assist for Karim.”

Ancelotti: “Vinicius suffered a hit to his knee, but it is nothing serious. He will be ready for the Copa del Rey final.”

Key stats (supplied by ESPN Stats & Information analysis)

– Benzema’s first-half hat trick is the third of his profession. The first got here for Lyon towards Metz in 2007, and the second was earlier this month towards Real Valladolid.

– All three of Benzema’s hat tips this season in all competitions have occurred this month: at Barcelona within the Copa del Rey, and towards Valladolid and now Almeria.

Up subsequent

Real Madrid: Los Blancos might be in motion once more on Tuesday, when the Basque Country beckons and a LaLiga fixture at Real Sociedad awaits (4 p.m. ET, stream reside on ESPN+).

Almeria: Almeria return to Spain’s south coast for a LaLiga encounter with Elche on Tuesday (1:30 p.m. ET, stream reside on ESPN+)


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