Karim Benzema scored two goals and set up another to lead Real Madrid to a 3-0 win over Cadiz in the Spanish league in the team's first game since the implosion of the proposed Super League.
The Cadiz players wore T-shirts before the game condemning the Super League, which was proposed by some of Europe’s top clubs on Sunday but essentially folded within days. Madrid president Florentino Perez had been one of the key figures behind the proposal.
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Alvaro Odriozola also scored as Madrid pulled even with Atletico Madrid, which has a game against Huesca on Thursday. Madrid, which is ahead of Atletico on the head-to-head tiebreaker, had lost ground last weekend after being held to a draw at Getafe.
Benzema opened the scoring in the 30th minute by converting a penalty awarded by video review. The French striker then set up Odriozola’s close-range header with a well-placed cross in the 33rd, and added the third with a header in the 40th for his 21st league goal, moving two behind scoring leader Lionel Messi of Barcelona.
“I'm very happy with how Benzema has been playing, not only for his goals,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “We have been enjoying his performances.”
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Madrid was without several players because of injuries and suspensions, including captain Sergio Ramos and midfielder Federico Valverde, who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Earlier, Sevilla beat Levante 1-0 to move to third place and keep alive its title chances.
Youssef En-Nesyri scored early in the second half to give Sevilla its fourth straight victory — and sixth in its last seven league matches.
“We'll keep fighting for the league title,” En-Nesyri said. “We are six matches away.”
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Julen Lopetegui's team reached 67 points, three behind Atletico and Madrid. Fourth-place Barcelona, which hosts Getafe on Thursday, was two points behind. Sevilla is unbeaten in seven matches since being eliminated by Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16 of the Champions League in March.
It was the second loss in a row for Levante, which stayed 12th in the standings.
Players from Sevilla and Levante also entered the match in Valencia wearing T-shirts criticising the Super League. The same happened in other matches on Wednesday.
The new league essentially folded after widespread criticism across the world of soccer, though Madrid and Barcelona were yet to officially announce they were abandoning the project. The other 10 founding members dropped out.
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The Spanish league went ahead with its campaign against the new competition despite a local court injunction prohibiting actions against the proposed league.
Among the actions by the Spanish league was a video urging teams to "earn it on the pitch!”
The message was accompanied by the Champions League logo at the end, and the words “football is for the fans.”
Osasuna beat Valencia 3-1 for its third win in a row, moving to eighth place. Valencia, winless in four matches, remained 14th, seven points from the relegation zone.
Fifth-place Real Betis, playing with 10 men for most of the match, held Athletic Bilbao to a 0-0 draw at home, while Alaves defeated sixth-place Villarreal 2-1 and Elche drew 1-1 with Valladolid.