Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema continued his red-hot form with two goals as Real Madrid warmed up for this weekend’s Clasico with a 3-0 win at Mallorca on Monday to extend their lead atop LaLiga to 10 points.

Lacking the thrills of their dramatic Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain last time out, Madrid were made to work for the win against their 16th-placed opponents.

But Vinicius Junior crucially broke the home side’s resistance in the 55th minute after being teed up by Benzema. And the French forward, fresh from his hat trick against PSG, then took centre stage with a brace in the final 13 minutes. First he converted a penalty after Vinicius was brought down and then headed home impressively from a cross from substitute Marcelo.

Those contributions took Benzema’s goal involvements for the season to 34, the most of anyone in Europe’s top league’s. But Madrid’s joy ahead of their latest meeting with arch rivals Barcelona will have been slightly tempered after Benzema, Rodrygo and Ferland Mendy all left the field with apparent injuries.

For a time, the game was a real battle for Madrid, too, against a Mallorca team that kept their opponents in check and even had the better of the first-half chances.

On both occasions, though, the relegation-threatened hosts will have been disappointed that they didn’t at least find the target. First, striker Vedat Muriqi misconnected with a volley when unmarked in the middle. Then right-back Pablo Maffeo had an even clearer sight of Thibaut Courtois’ goal but somehow scuffed wide much to the visible disappointment of his teammates.

As the half neared its conclusion, Madrid managed to rediscover their momentum, leaving Mallorca grateful to hear the half-time whistle.

It was to be only a temporary respite, however. Ten minutes after the restart Iddrisu Baba was caught on the ball just outside his own area by Federico Valverde, Benzema picked up the pieces and laid the ball on to Vinicius who calmly slotted the ball through Rico’s legs.

Mallorca’s resolve broken, Benzema then took his league tally for the season to 22 goals, putting him behind only Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski (29) in Europe’s top leagues. Madrid will now hope he is fit to add to his tally against Barcelona after suffering an apparent calf injury in the process of heading home his second goal of the game.

Monday’s win saw Madrid extend their lead at the top of the table after second-placed Sevilla dropped points in a draw with Rayo Vallecano. And it means that Carlo Ancelotti’s side will take a massive 15-point lead over Barcelona, albeit having played a game more, into Sunday’s Clasico at the Bernabeu.

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