Real Madrid beat Sevilla to extend lead

Luka Modric and Zinedine Zidane present the Ballon d'Or trophy to Karim Benzema of Real Madrid prior to the LaLiga Santander match between Real Madrid CF and Sevilla FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on October 22, 2022 in Madrid, Spain.

Karim Benzema has proudly showed his Ballon d’Or award to fans at the Santiago Bernabeu and then sat back to watch Real Madrid beat Sevilla 3-1 and increase their lead in the Spanish league.

Benzema was ruled out of Saturday’s match when the club said he had muscle fatigue. It appears that the French striker, who won soccer’s prestigious individual prize on Monday, is being extra cautious to avoid risk of injury ahead of the World Cup starting in less than a month.

Vinicius Junior set up two goals for Madrid as the Brazil winger continues to excel both with, and without, Benzema playing by his side.

Madrid extended their unbeaten streak to 16 games since starting the season across all competitions and increased their lead at the top to six points over Barcelona, who play Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Luka Modric helped ensure that Madrid did not miss Benzema’s goals, scoring from an assist by Vinicius to give his team the lead five minutes into the game.

While Vinicius squandered an opportunity to add to the lead in the 44th, Sevilla were toothless with midfielder Isco Alarcon up front as a “false nine.”

Sevilla had their share of possession but had no strikers in the box to feed. In the 45th Jesus Navas drew the first save from Thibaut Courtois, back after missing six matches due to sciatic pain.

Jorge Sampaoli’s plan, however, started to click in the second half when Sevilla’s greater number of midfielders, including Oliver Torres and Ivan Rakitic, and playmakers like Isco took control for half an hour.

Erik Lamela showed his skill by sending a ball around Courtois from a tight angle with the tip of his boot to equalise in the 54th.

But Carlo Ancelotti sent on fresh legs in attack and a counterattack cued by substitute Marco Asensio led to Vinicius laying off for substitute Luas Vazquez to fire into an empty net in the 79th.

Federico Valverde added a third goal from long range two minutes later.

“Today I want to highlight the work of Vinicius,” Ancelotti said. “He gave two assists for teammates to score practically in empty nets. Those assists are worth more than scoring goals. He showed a lot of generosity.”

Real Sociedad missed a chance to pull level with Barcelona on points after their eight-game unbeaten streak across all competitions came to an end in Valladolid.

Sergio Leon’s goal in the 16th and some staunch defending under heavy rain at the Jose Zorrilla Stadium gave Valladolid the 1-0 victory.

Mallorca fought back 2-1 at Valencia after Edinson Cavani had put the hosts ahead with a penalty for his fourth goal in three games.

Vedat Muriqi scored his fifth goal of the campaign when he equalised from the spot. Former Valencia forward Lee Kang-In completed the comeback in the 83rd.

Rayo Vallecano central defender Florian Lejeune scored twice to lead their 5-1 rout of 10-man Cadiz, with all five goals coming after Iza Carcelen was sent off with a direct red near the end of the first half.

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