Benzema nets hat trick in Madrid win, Vinícius takes knock

·3 min read

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Karim Benzema scored a first-half hat trick to lead Real Madrid to a 4-2 win over Almeria on Saturday in a Spanish league game that included an injury scare for forward Vinícius Júnior.

Whether Madrid's season ends in success or failure will hinge on next weekend's Copa del Rey final against Osasuna and its Champions League semifinal rematch from last season with Manchester City.

With Luka Modric already doubtful for those critical games, the last thing coach Carlo Ancelotti needed was to see his best winger grab his right knee and ask to be substituted several minutes after banging into a defender.

But after the match Ancelotti said Vinícius would likely be good to go.

“He had a knock on his knee that bothered him, but it’s nothing, just a knock,” Ancelotti said. “I think he will be fine in a couple of days. He will be ready for the cup final.”

Fellow Brazil forward Rodrygo also ended the game on the bench with an ice pack on his left knee. But he didn't seem to be injured.

Madrid has one more Liga game at Real Sociedad before the Copa final against Osasuna in Seville. Three days later Madrid hosts City on May 9.

The comfortable win over Almeria ensured Madrid remained in second place in La Liga but Barcelona was still eight points ahead before it hosted Real Betis late Saturday.

More importantly for Madrid, its players showed the ambition they lacked in a 4-2 loss at Girona midweek. That defeat led Ancelotti to admit his team lacked motivation for the league with Barcelona so far ahead on the table.


Benzema’s treble gave him 17 goals in the league, only one fewer than Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski.

Benzema tapped in the fifth-minute opener at the Santiago Bernabeu after Vinícius dribbled past Houboulang Mendes and used the outside of his right boot to square the ball.

Rodrygo, who also scored Madrid’s fourth goal from long range just after halftime, produced another assist for Benzema after an audacious dribbling move. With Almeria's Samu Costa draped over his back, Rodrygo rolled the ball with the back of his boot to slip it behind the defender. He spun around Costa to pick up his dribble and found Benzema to score in the 17th.

Benzema's third came in the 42nd from a spot kick after Largie Ramazani fouled Lucas Váquez.

Ancelotti, however, may still have some worries about his defense after Lázaro scored in first-half injury time and Lucas Robertone headed in following Rodrygo’s goal.

Madrid substitute Marco Asensio hit the woodwork twice in the final minutes.

Vinícius and Eduardo Camavinga will both miss Tuesday’s game at fourth-placed Real Sociedad after earning one-game suspensions for accumulating five yellow cards.

Almeria was left in 15th place and two points above the relegation zone.


Elche rolled to its biggest win of an otherwise painful season when it beat Rayo Vallecano 4-0. The last-placed side was still 16 points from safety.


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Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press