MADRID: Only a few games into the season, Real Madrid already know they have an attacking duo they can rely on.
Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema added to their impressive starts to the season by scoring late goals in Real’s 2-1 win against Valencia in La Liga on Sunday.
Vinicius scored his fourth goal of the season in the 86th minute, and Benzema netted his sixth two minutes later to give Real their third straight win in the league.
The victory leaves them top with 13 points, two more than defending champions Atletico Madrid.
“It’s always hard to play here and it was even harder after they scored,” Vinicius said. “Things were not going our way but in the end we found a way to rally and get the victory.”
Vinicius and Benzema have combined for 11 of the team’s 15 goals in their first five league matches and top the league’s scoring charts.
Valencia, who entered the weekend tied for first with Real and Atletico, opened the scoring with a goal from Hugo Duro in the 66th after a mistake by Real defender Lucas Vazquez, who replaced the injured Dani Carvajal in the first half.
Vinicius equalised with a shot that deflected off a defender before going in, and then made a well-placed cross for Benzemas winning header that stunned Valencia fans at Mestalla after the hosts had played well for most of the match.
Mikel Oyarzabal missed a first-half penalty kick as fourth-placed Real Sociedad were held to a 0-0 draw against Sevilla, who are sixth.
Oyarzabal had his 27th-minute penalty stopped by Sevilla goalkeeper Bono, who also came up with some key saves later in the game.
Leandro Cabrera scored seven minutes into injury time as Espanyol, yet to win in the league this season, salvaged a 2-2 draw at 10-man Real Betis.
Aleix Vidal put Espanyol ahead in the 16th before Betis rallied with goals by Willian Jose in the 41st and Nabil Fekir in first-half stoppage time.
The hosts played a man down from the 78th after a red card for German Pezzella.
American forward Matthew Hoppe came off the bench in the second half to make his debut with Mallorca in a 0-0 draw against Villarreal, missing out on the potential winner after his late goal was called off for offside.
Villarreal’s winless streak to start the league reached four matches and Unai Emery’s team hasnt won in six matches in all competitions this season.
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2021