Benzema strikes twice as Real beat Elche 4-0

Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema celebrates scoring his side’s third goal during the Champions League, round of 16, second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

(Reuters) – Real Madrid earned a comfortable 4-0 home win over bottom side Elche in LaLiga on Wednesday, restoring their eight-point gap to leaders Barcelona.

Real, who on Saturday won the Club World Cup for a record-extending fifth time, are second in the standings on 48 points from 21 games — behind table-toppers Barcelona who are on an unbeaten run of 12 games.

“We played a good game, with a lot of control,” coach Carlo Ancelotti told DAZN. “We handled ourselves well in the final third, we had a lot of chances and we kept a good eye on them to avoid their counter-attacks.

“It was a good game at an important moment in the season”.

Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric were all on target as Real, without the suspended Vinicius Jr, wasted no time and could have opened the scoring four minutes into the game but defender Eder Militao narrowly missed the target from distance. Asensio, however, effortlessly slalomed past the Elche defence four minutes later to put Real in front with a low shot inside the bottom left corner.

Striker Benzema doubled their advantage from the spot just after the half-hour mark, firing into the top right corner after Ancelotti’s side were given a penalty for a handball.

Scoring his goal number 229, the Frenchman surpassed former captain Raul Gonzalez (228) to become LaLiga’s fifth highest scorer and second-best scorer in the league for Real Madrid, with only Cristiano Ronaldo in front with 311 goals. “(Benzema) is not just a striker,” Ancelotti said. “He combines well with team mates, he’s always ready in the penalty area and helps us a lot with possession.

“Karim is having a fantastic career. Hopefully he can continue (in Madrid), because the fans are requesting him at this level.”

The France forward went on to make it 3-0 one minute into first-half stoppage time through another penalty, awarded to Real for a foul on forward Rodrygo.

Early in the second half Rodrygo had two close chances himself but Elche goalkeeper Edgar Badia denied him both times.

The hosts, however, continued to enjoy possession and create chances, and increased the scoreline again in the 80th minute with a superb shot by Modric from the edge of the box.

Elche had their best chance in the 38th minute when defender Jose Angel Carmona connected with a precise pass inside the box but his powerful strike flew wide.

“We are all aware of our situation,” coach Pablo Machin told a news conference. “For us, there are only finals left.”

Elche remain bottom of the table and 12 points from safety, with only one win in the 2022-23 campaign and no clean sheet in any of their 21 games.