Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema scored a last-gasp winner as the visitors rallied from two goals behind to defeat championship rivals Sevilla 3-2 in a dramatic LaLiga match on Sunday, putting Carlo Ancelotti’s side one step closer to winning the league.
With six rounds of fixtures left, Real currently has a 15-point advantage over nearest opponents Barcelona, who have two games in hand, Sevilla in third, and fourth-placed Atletico Madrid, who earlier defeated Espanyol 2-1.
Benzema scored two minutes into extra time after Rodrygo and Nacho Fernandez had drawn Real level after Ivan Rakitic and Erik Lamela had given Sevilla a 2-0 halftime lead at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.
“Everyone expects Real Madrid to falter, but we don’t falter because we have heart and character. LaLiga is not yet complete, but we have made significant progress “Ancelotti said.
It was a story of two halves, with Sevilla dominating the first half but disappearing after the break in a game highlighted by numerous contentious calls by referee Guillermo Cuadra.
After 17 minutes, he did not award a penalty for what seemed to be a blatant handball by Sevilla defender Diego Carlos, and he then refused to show Real Madrid’s Eduardo Camavinga a second yellow card for a tackle from behind on Antony Martial in the 37th.
The referee also denied Vinicius Jr’s equalizer for Real in the 78th minute due to a questionable handball judgment, despite being referred to the pitchside monitor by VAR.
“We did it despite the controversy because we don’t understand how the official can call a handball by Vinicius but not a handball by Diego Carlos.” “Ancelotti said during a press conference.
Sevilla took the lead early in the first half as Real defender Eder Militao made two errors in four minutes.
First, in the 21st minute, Rakitic sent a free-kick past the Real wall after Militao created a huge opening, and four minutes later, the Brazilian enabled Jesus Corona to get behind the defense and cross for the unmarked Lamela to make it 2-0.
Following Camavinga’s near call for fouling Martial, Ancelotti substituted Rodrygo for the young French midfielder at halftime, a decision that swung the game in Real’s favor as the Brazilian performed well off the bench.
He scored Real’s opening goal five minutes into the second half, set up the play that resulted in fellow substitute Nacho scoring the second in the 82nd minute, and then crossed for LaLiga top scorer Benzema to score the game-winning goal 10 minutes later.
It was Benzema’s 25th goal of the season, his most in a single league campaign in his Real career, surpassing his previous record of 24 in the 2015-16 season.
“The players did not lose their heads after two errors, and they are to blame for this extraordinary come-from-behind victory.” “Ancelotti exhaled a sigh of relief.
“This squad does not surprise me, but what transpired in the second half makes me extremely proud of them. I’d want to thank everyone who took part.”
On Monday, Barcelona will play relegation-threatened Cadiz.