Tough day for Benzema as Real Madrid snatch draw

Karim Benzema player of Real Madrid celebrates during the LaLiga Santander match between Real Madrid CF and Elche CF at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on January 23, 2022 in Madrid, Spain.

La Liga leaders Real Madrid have required a stoppage-time goal by Eder Militao to salvage a 2-2 home draw while Barcelona accounted for Alaves 1-0 with a late strike of their own.

Madrid struggled in what was a disappointing afternoon for Karim Benzema, who missed a penalty in the first half and had to be replaced in the second because of injury.

The draw left Madrid -- who have won just once in their past three league games -- four points ahead of second-placed Sevilla.

Benzema's struggles began when he missed an opportunity from close range with only the goalkeeper to beat inside the area in the first half.

Moments later Benzema, Madrid's top scorer this season, had his chance to give his team the lead from the penalty spot, but the France striker sent his shot way over the crossbar.

To cap an unusually frustrating day, Benzema had to leave the match in the 58th because of an apparent muscle injury.

He grabbed the back of his left leg as he exited the field.

Lucas Boye and Pere Milla scored a goal in each half to give Elche a 2-0 lead, but Madrid pulled closer with Luka Modric's penalty kick in the 82nd and evened the match with Militao's firm header off a cross by Vinicius Junior.

It's tough to take, Milla said.

We had Madrid against the ropes but couldn't take advantage of it.

Elche moved five points from the relegation zone with the draw at the Bernabeu.

Barcelona needed a late goal from Frenkie de Jong in the 87th-minute to grab the points at second-bottom Alaves.

Xavi's side dominated the match but looked like being held until Dutchman de Jong converted from close range to send Barca fifth.

Meanwhile, Athletic Bilbao won 1-0 at Rayo Vallecano, mid-table Osasuna defeated hosts Granada 2-0 and Real Sociedad were held to a goalless draw by Getafe.

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