Valladolid, Spain, Dec 30 (EFE).- Karim Benzema scored twice here Friday to lead Real Madrid 2-0 over Real Valladolid and lift the Blancos into first place in LaLiga.
The defending champions have 38 points, 1 better than Barcelona, who host 17th-place Espanyol on Saturday in the Catalan derby.
Valladolid dropped to 15th in the table as a result of their defeat and a win earlier in the day for Getafe.
Real Madrid started well and Benzema, returning from the injury that kept him out of the France side for the World Cup, sent the ball over the cross-bar in the 17th minute after Vinicius Jr. was thwarted by goalkeeper Jordi Masip.
At the other end, Sergio Leon and Alvaro Aguado tested Thibaut Courtois before the break.
The Belgian was called into action again in the 68th minute to stop a strike by Leon, while Benzema forced a stop from Masip as the contest entered the last 10 minutes of regulation.
On the ensuing corner, Toni Kroos’ kick bounced off Benzema before hitting defender Javi Sanchez on the hand. The Blancos clamored for a penalty and a VAR review confirmed the infraction.
Valladolid were livid about the call and Sergio Leon was sent off with a straight red card for dissent.
Benzema coolly converted from the spot to give Real Madrid the lead in the 83rd and nailed down the victory six minutes later with an assist from Eduardo Camavinga. EFE mim/dr