Sports Desk, Jan 8 (EFE).- Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr. each had a brace Saturday to power Real Madrid 4-1 over Valencia and restore the Blancos’ lead atop LaLiga to 8 points, though second-place Sevilla have two games in hand.
Barcelona, meanwhile, lost out on a chance to break into the top four, conceding a late equalizer to Granada after going down to 10 men.
Against Valencia at the Santiago Bernabeu, the hosts had most of the ball but were struggling to mount a serious threat until referee Alejandro Hernandez awarded a penalty for an encounter between Omar Alderete and the Blancos’ Casemiro.
Amid the vociferous protests of Valencia, Benzema stepped to the spot and scored his 300th goal for Real Madrid. Vini Jr. extended the advantage to 3-0 in the second half with a pair of goals less than 10 minutes apart.
The visitors won a penalty in the 75th minute and while Thibaut Courtois turned away Gonçalo Guedes’ initial effort, the Valencia man headed in the rebound to reduce the deficit by one.
Benzema completed the double with a goal in the 88th minute and Real Madrid improved to 49 points. Valencia remain ninth in the table.
Earlier Saturday in Granada, the Blaugrana went ahead in the 57th minute with Luuk de Jong’s goal and looked a good bet to hang on for the 3 points until Gavi picked up a second yellow card and was sent off with 10 minutes left in regulation.
Barça were still ahead in the 89th minute when Granada won a corner and a failed clearance set up Antonio Puertas to equalize and stretch his team’s unbeaten streak to seven matches.
While the Catalan club are level on points with Atletico Madrid at 32, the defending champions sit fifth thanks to better goal difference and can overtake Real Sociedad in fourth place if they win Sunday in Villarreal. EFE