La Liga’s basement-dwellers Elche fell to a 3-0 defeat at home to Real Madrid on Wednesday night,
propelling the visitors six points clear at La Liga’s summit.
This was a meeting between two extremes of La Liga.
Elche came into the contest at the foot of the table while Real Madrid sat firmly at the top. Elche were winless,
Theyhad conceded more goals than any other Spanish side,
Madrid were the division’s top scorers.
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The gulf was evident just five minutes after kick-off. Karim Benzema had the ball in the net at the end of a devastatingly slick passing sequence but Vinicius Junior had strayed offside in the buildup.
The assistant referee’s raised flag ignited the Elche fans and players,
sparking a wild spell as the hosts hounded after their illustrious visitors. However, Real Madrid revelled in the space Elche’s aggressive but haphazard pressing provided.
Benzema was denied by Carlos Clerc’s goal-line clearance. But no one dared get in the way of Federico Valverde’s vicious left-footed swipe,
sending the ball swerving into the corner from the edge of the box in the 12th minute.
Throughout the match,
the reigning champions bamboozled Elche with their blinding rotation of positions and the ball. Real had their second spellbinding team ‘goal’ inside half an hour chalked off for a narrow offside. David Alaba weaved in off the left flank, completing a pair of one-twos before rolling a final pass into the bottom corner.
In the wake of the Clasico triumph on Sunday,
Carlo Ancelotti fretted over the physical and mental fatigue his side may carry into the midweek contest. There wasn’t a flicker of complacency in the first half but Real began the second 45 minutes sluggishly. Within 45 seconds of the restart,
Lucas Boye blasted a volley over the bar from close range after Eder Militao and Antonio Rudiger switched off.
For the third time on Sunday evening,
the VAR’s lines crossed out a Real goal. Despite looking along the backline,
Dani Carvajal mistimed his dart across the box,
rendering the volley Benzema rifled past Edgar Badia meaningless.
Clerc reminded Real of the slender nature of their post-VAR lead with 20 minutes to play. Los Blancos took a furiously front-foot approach to limit Elche’s threat but were vulnerable when the hosts evaded the first wave of black shirts snapping at their heels. Helibelton Palacios had space to stride forward,
teeing up his fellow fullback, Clerc,
for a close-range header Andriy Lunin reacted sharply to save.
As the match ticked into the final quarter of an hour,
Benzema finally evaded the scrutiny of the officials to double Real’s lead.
Basically Playing a crisp one-two with Rodrygo around three Elche players,
the Ballon d’Or winner found the back of the net for the third time tonight. Benzema playfully celebrated with the universal hand signal for VAR before sharing a smile with the referee.
Though Valverde was denied a second from point-blank range but Marco Asensio came off the bench to add an extra layer of gloss to Real’s victory in the dying embers,
toeing Rodrygo’s square pass beyond a wrong-footed Badia.
Real Madrid have extended their lead at the top of La Liga to six points after beating Elche 3-0.
So Carlo Ancelotti’s side arrived at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero on a high, having defeated Barcelona 3-1 in El Clasico at the weekend to overhaul their rivals at the summit of the table.
They also boasted a second Ballon d’Or winner in their ranks, with Karim Benzema joining Luka Modric in football’s most exclusive club on Monday.