Vinicius fills Benzema gap for Real Madrid

Helibelton Palacios Zapata of Elche CF competes for the ball with Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid CF during the LaLiga Santander match between Elche CF and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero on October 30, 2021 in Elche, Spain.

Vinicius Junior has stepped up in the absence of Karim Benzema by scoring twice in Real Madrid's 2-1 win over 10-man Elche in Saturday's La Liga clash.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti took a calculated risk to rest the 33-year-old French forward Benzema for the game, and his side got the job done to move level with leaders Real Sociedad, who play Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Vinicius swept a delightful opener past former Madrid man Kiko Casilla with 22 minutes played, and Elche's task was made all the more difficult when Raul Guti was dismissed shortly after the hour mark.

Brazil international Vinicius doubled his tally 17 minutes from time and, despite a late consolation for substitute Pere Milla, Madrid saw the game through to get back to winning ways after the midweek stalemate against Osasuna and before Wednesday's Champions League visit of Shakhtar Donetsk.

"I'm very happy with everything I've been doing since the start of the season and I have to continue like this," Vinicius said. "The whole team's work is very important especially for me, as I'm more up front and run less."

Elche edged the first-half chances but fell behind to Vinicius' eighth goal in all competitions this term, as he fired across Casilla after being played in by a sublime back-heeled flick from Mariano on his first appearance of the season.

The hosts continued threatened as Lucas Perez somehow fired wide with plenty of the goal to aim for and Guti blasted a volley straight at Thibaut Courtois.

Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid celebrates 0-2 with Dani Carvajal of Real Madrid during the La Liga Santander match between Elche v Real Madrid at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero on October 30, 2021 in Elche Spain.

That momentum was halted when Guti was issued a second yellow card for sliding in on Toni Kroos, however, and Vinicius made Elche pay with a chipped finish over Casilla from an acute angle.

A Casemiro error gifted Milla the chance to pull one back just five minutes after being introduced, though that proved to be nothing more than a consolation for the home team.

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