Karim Benzema stars in Real Madrid win

Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema (R) vies with Celta Vigo's Colombian defender Jeison Murillo during the Spanish League football match between RC Celta de Vigo and Real Madrid CF at the Balaidos stadium in Vigo on April 2, 2022.


With Karim Benzema back from injury, Real Madrid got back on the road to winning the Spanish league after the France striker scored two penalties in a 2-1 win at Celta Vigo.

Benzema, who also had another spot kick saved in Vigo, missed Madrid's 4-0 defeat to Barcelona before the two-week international break as he recovered from a leg injury.

Celta took the game to the league leaders, only to be undone by some rash defending and some borderline calls by the referee.

The third penalty that set up Benzema's 70th-minute winner came after a questionable foul when Ferland Mendy stumbled over the leg of Kevin Vazquez. Celta also had a goal waived off in the first half after a video review.

The first two were penalties, but the third was not, Celta striker Iago Aspas said.

Mendy was going full steam and ran over our defender. I think it was a foul in our favour.

Madrid opened a 12-point gap over Sevilla and a 15-point advantage over Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Next up, Madrid visit London on Wednesday to start their Champions League quarter-final with Chelsea.

Benzema's brace took his tally to 34 goals across all competitions, his best scoring mark since he joined Madrid 13 seasons ago.

Benzema also equaled Alfredo Di Stefano as Madrid's third-highest scorer in the Spanish league with 216. He trails only Raul Gonzalez (228) and Cristiano Ronaldo (312).

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti missed the match after testing positive for COVID-19. His son, Davide Ancelotti, took his place.

Celta forward Santi Mina was used as a late substitute after he spent this week on trial for allegedly having raped a woman in 2017. He denies any wrongdoing. The verdict is expected in weeks.

Jose Morales scored twice to inspire Levante's 2-0 win over Villarreal and breathe some life into their bid to avoid relegation. Levante were left five points from safety.

Villarreal's loss came before they host Bayern Munich in a Champions League quarter-final.

Javier Aguirre's debut as Mallorca's new coach ended with a 1-0 loss at Getafe after the hosts scored late.

Aguirre, a veteran coach with vast experience in Spain who has twice led the national team of his native Mexico, replaced Luis Garcia Plaza. But he could not stop the Balearic Island team from suffering a seventh consecutive loss.

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