Sports Desk, Jan 23 (efe-epa).- Real Madrid rebounded from a string of disappointments on Saturday with an impressive 1-4 LaLiga victory over Alaves.
Karim Benzema had a brace to lead the Blancos, who will be hoping that the result in Vitoria marks a definitive end to a four-match run that saw them fail to reach the final of the Spanish Super Cup and be dumped out of the Copa del Rey by third-tier Alcoyano.
The win brings Real Madrid to 40 points, 4 behind leaders Atletico Madrid, while 17th-place Alaves are just a point above the drop zone.
David Bettoni was behind the bench for the visitors as head coach Zinedine Zidane had to stay home after testing positive for Covid-19, though he continued to call the shots.
Desperately in need of points after three straight losses, Alaves displayed their usual toughness and tenacity, but went behind in the 15th minute, conceding a goal to Casemiro off a corner.
The Blancos led 0-3 at the break, thanks to goals by Benzema, in the 41st minute, and Eden Hazard, who scored in first-half stoppage time.
Alaves battled on, however, and Joselu narrowed the deficit in the 59th minute only to see Benzema get his second of the night 10 minutes later to seal the triumph for Real Madrid.
Youssef En-Nesyri, who has become a hot property in the January transfer window, accounted for all of the scoring Sevilla shut out Cadiz 3-0 on Saturday.
The Moroccan’s second hat trick in five matches – a fourth goal was disallowed for offside – made him the LaLiga scoring leader (12 goals) and vaulted his team into third place with 36 points, 2 ahead of Barcelona. Cadiz are ninth with 24 points.
Villarreal squandered a chance to go ahead of Sevilla, managing only a 0-0 draw with last-place Huesca, and are now fifth with 34 points, trailing Barça on goal difference.
Also likely to look back on Saturday as a missed opportunity are Real Sociedad, who have been struggling for a while after making a surprisingly strong start to the season.
The contest reached the 80th minute with hosts Sociedad leading Real Betis 2-0 on goals by Alexander Isak and Mikel Oyarzabal, but Sergio Canales scored for the visitors with five minutes left in regulation and Joaquin got the equalizer in stoppage time.
Sociedad remain sixth with 31 points and Betis hold steady in the eighth spot with 27 points. EFE