BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — When Karim Benzema went down injured, Vinícius Júnior and the not often used Luka Jovic stepped up to safe Real Madrid a 2-0 win at Real Sociedad and strengthen its maintain of the Spanish league lead on Saturday.
The younger attacking gamers struck targets early within the second half in San Sebastián to give Madrid its eighth consecutive win throughout all competitions and depart it eight factors away from nearest chaser Sevilla.
Madrid’s victory got here after Atlético Madrid and Barcelona had been upset at residence, leaving them additional adrift.
“We knew that this was going to be a troublesome recreation at a tough floor, however we performed an excellent recreation from the very begin,” Madrid midfielder chief Luka Modric stated. “It was a whole recreation and these are three big factors.”
Atlético Madrid trailed by 10 factors in fourth place after the defending champion was surprised by Mallorca 2-1 within the capital.
Barcelona was a whopping 16 factors behind in seventh place following a 1-0 loss to Real Betis, its first defeat since Xavi Hernández took over as coach.
Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis rose into third place, proper behind crosstown rival Sevilla, which beat Villarreal 1-0 thanks to a purpose from Lucas Ocampos.
Jovic by no means discovered his spot on Madrid following his 60 million euros switch from Eintracht Frankfurt in the summertime of 2019. He scored two targets in a season-and-a-half earlier than he was loaned again to Frankfurt. Since his return on this marketing campaign, he had tallied solely simply over 100 minutes as a sparsely used substitute, scoring zero targets.
But when Benzema gingerly walked off the pitch whereas grimacing in ache within the seventeenth minute, coach Carlo Ancelotti appeared previous Eden Hazard and Isco Alarcón and as a substitute picked Jovic to take his place.
The Serbia striker proved key to Madrid taming the high-pace assault of Sociedad within the forty eighth. After Vinícius handed to him within the field, Jovic rapidly returned the ball for Vinícius to fireplace in his tenth purpose, second within the league to Benzema’s 12.
Jovic headed in his third purpose for Madrid to safe the factors within the 58th when he slid into place to push in a headed move by Casemiro knocked on from a nook kick.
“I can’t ask Vinícius to do something extra,” Ancelotti stated. “(But) I would like to underscore what Jovic did. He performed very properly, gave an help and was very sharp within the purpose he scored.”
Sociedad, which was with out playmakers David Silva and Mikel Merino, fell to fifth place after its first residence loss.
Benzema’s injury got here earlier than Madrid hosts Inter Milan on Tuesday to resolve which wins their Champions League group. Madrid will then play Atlético subsequent weekend.
The excessive level of the day for Barcelona’s followers got here earlier than kickoff, when Barcelona participant Alexia Putellas introduced to the 65,000-plus followers her Ballón d’Or for the world’s greatest ladies’s participant.
Otherwise, it was extra frustration.
Juanmi Jiménez completed off a well-orchestrated counterattack to take Betis’ winner with 11 minutes to play.
Barcelona had gained twice and drawn as soon as since Xavi replaced Ronald Koeman.
Betis’ purpose got here simply when Barcelona was enjoying at its greatest after Ousmane Dembelé went on as an alternative choice to the ultimate half hour.
Three instances Dembelé shot simply by the submit earlier than Betis caught Barcelona on a three-versus-two breakaway.
Sergio Canales coolly drew in Barcelona’s final two defenders and handed for Cristian Tello, who fed the now unmarked Juanmi to slot the ball previous Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
“We have to cease these counterattacks,” Xavi stated. “We had practiced simply that, about when you’ve gotten to make a tactical foul.”
Barcelona misplaced teen expertise Gavi Páez within the first half following the highly effective impression of a ball to his head. The membership stated Gavi was launched from hospital after an examination.
Barcelona visits Bayern Munich on Wednesday needing a win to guarantee its place within the Champions League spherical of 16. Bayern, which is already certified because the group winner, beat Barcelona 3-0 of their first assembly this season.
If it loses, Barcelona would want Benfica to not beat Dynamo Kyiv to keep away from elimination.
Atlético striker Cunha broke by means of for the defending champion within the 68th, just for Franco Russo to head Mallorca degree within the eightieth.
Atlético fell into the identical lure that doomed Barcelona, pushing too many gamers ahead searching for the winner. Take Kubo struck Mallorca’s second purpose in injury time after Ángel Rodríguez launched him on a solo run from close to the middle line with a move behind Atlético’s protection.
Diego Simeone’s facet should win at Porto and hope AC Milan doesn’t beat group winner Liverpool on Tuesday to attain the Champions League’s knockout rounds.
Sevilla and Villareal even have key Champions League matches this week. Sevilla should win at Salzburg to transfer on, whereas Villarreal performs Atalanta needing a draw to advance.
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