European roundup: Real Madrid defeat Valencia to move second in La Liga

Real Madrid continued to cling to the coat-tails of city rivals Atlético in the La Liga title race after winning 2-0 at home against Valencia. First-half goals from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos won the game as Zinedine Zidane’s team moved above Barcelona and into second place in the table, five points behind leaders Atlético, who have two games in hand.

There was a nervous early moment from Jaume Doménech when the Valencia goalkeeper misjudged Casemiro’s long-range shot, diving past the ball before having to desperately flick out a leg to divert it over the crossbar.‘The pain is immense’: Neymar to miss reunion with Barcelona and MessiRead more

Doménech was beaten two minutes later when Madrid took the lead. Benzema drifted beyond Thierry Correia before whipping a low shot into the bottom corner of the net from just outside the box. Benzema would have had a second goal after half an hour had it not been for a brilliant saving block by Gabriel.

Doménech beat away a 25-yard effort by Luka Modric as the hosts searched for a second goal, which arrived three minutes before half time when Kroos stylishly steered Lucas Vazquez’s cutback into the net from the edge of the penalty area.

Valencia offered very little but almost halved the deficit early in the second half when Maxi Gómez’s fierce strike forced Thibaut Courtois into an acrobatic save to tip it away. The margin of victory would have been greater for Madrid had Domenech not made a fine save to block another Benzema effort, while Ferland Mendy had a goal chalked off by VAR.

Alexander Isak scored the only goal as Real Sociedad won 1-0 at Getafe to remain within sight of the top four.

Osasuna battled their way to a 1-0 win at Levante. Ante Budimir gave the visitors the lead with 16 minutes remaining, but it was Sergio Herrera’s stop from José Luis Morales’ spot-kick five minutes later which ensured they emerged with the points.

Nabil Fekir and Emerson scored either side of half-time to hand Real Betis a 2-1 victory at Villarreal, who pulled one back from the penalty spot through Gerard Moreno.

In Italy, Jordan Veretout’s first-half double set Roma on their way to a 3-0 victory over Udinese in Serie A and Paulo Fonseca’s side moved back above Juventus into third in the standings.

Juventus’ defeat at Napoli on Saturday opened the door for Roma to regain third spot, with Veretout’s glanced heading after five minutes setting the hosts on their way to a comfortable win. Veretout added his second and ninth Serie A goal of the season from the penalty spot in the 25th minute after Henrikh Mkhitaryan had been fouled.

Internazionale’s Romelu Lukaku scored twice and set up another goal as they beat visitors Lazio 3-1 to move a point above Milan at the top of the standings.

Lukaku opened the scoring with a penalty in the 22nd minute, before the Belgian striker doubled the advantage with his 300th career goal for club and country just before half-time.

Lazio piled on the pressure after the break and got back in the game through a bizarre goal when the ball was deflected into the net off substitute Gonzalo Escalante in the 61st. But Lukaku helped Inter to have the final say three minutes later when he raced clear on the counter before setting up Argentinian strike partner Lautaro Martínez to complete the win.

Substitute Luis Muriel’s last-minute goal got Atalanta over the line at struggling Cagliari as they edged to a 1-0 victory.

Fabio Quagliarella came off the bench to fire Sampdoria to a 2-1 home victory over Fiorentina while Francesco Caputo’s 49th-minute penalty handed Sassuolo a 2-1 win at bottom-of-the-table Crotone.

In France, Lille reclaimed top spot in Ligue 1 but their lead shrunk to a single point as they were held to a goalless home draw by Stade Brestois.

After a lacklustre opening half, Lille increased the pressure but the visitors stayed compact at the back. Jonathan David found the back of the net from close range but the goal was disallowed following a VAR review for a handball by José Fonte. Lille ended the game with not a single shot on target.

Monaco avoided a first defeat in 2021 as Wissam Ben Yedder, who bagged a double, netted three minutes into stoppage time to salvage a point in a 2-2 home draw against Lorient.

Elsewhere, Antoine Kombouaré won his first game in charge as Nantes beat Angers 3-1 away to snap a 15-match winless streak.

In the Bundesliga, André Silva and Evan Ndicka teamed up to maintain Eintracht Frankfurt’s bid for a top-four finish as they beat Cologne 2-0. They sit in third place ahead of Wolfsburg on goal difference after Die Wolfe played out a goalless draw with Borussia Mönchengladbach.

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