Benzema's brace earns him 9/10 as Real Madrid stroll while Asensio's comeback cameo steals the show



Posted Friday, June 19, 2020 by ESPN

Benzema's brace earns him 9/10 as Real Madrid stroll while Asensio's comeback cameo steals the show
Karim Benzema scored twice in Real Madrid's comfortable 3-0 win over Valencia on Thursday. JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

A brace from Karim Benzema and a goal from Marco Asensio on his return from injury gave Real Madrid a 3-0 win over Valencia on Thursday to keep pace with Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

Both goalkeepers were kept busy in a first half that saw Eden Hazard have an early shot saved and Thibaut Courtois tip a Rodrigo shot on to the post, before the Valencia forward had a goal ruled out for offside. Benzema broke the deadlock with an hour played, while Asensio volleyed Madrid into a two-goal lead with his first touch just seconds after coming off the bench, before turning provider for Benzema late on.

Positives

Real Madrid had plenty of shots on goal in the first half -- the most without scoring, in fact, of any game under Zinedine Zidane -- but couldn't find the net. The most encouraging thing about this display was that they didn't panic, kept going, and eventually made the breakthrough. This was the team's first big test since La Liga's return, after a straightforward three points over Eibar at the weekend, and they came through it for a hard-earned win.

At the back, the form of Courtois is hugely encouraging. The keeper has conceded just 17 league goals this season, the best record in the division. Further forward, the return of Asensio with a goal and assist highlights the broad range of attacking options at Zidane's disposal.

Negatives

Madrid looked rattled at times in the first half, when only an outstanding Courtois save and a much-debated offside call prevented Valencia from taking the lead. It was a much less convincing opening 45-minute display than the team had produced against Eibar, which was rectified after the interval.

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