MADRID: Levante were relegated from La Liga on Thursday after they were thrashed 6-0 by champions Real Madrid, with Vinicius Junior scoring a hat-trick.
Bottom club Levante needed to win to keep alive their dwindling chances of survival but against a rampant Real, that hope was quickly snuffed out.
Real, who will face Liverpool in the Champions League final later this month, went ahead through Ferland Mendy before goals from Karim Benzema and Rodrygo made it 3-0.
Vinicius opened his account just before the interval before adding two more in the second half to condemn Levante to the drop as they suffered their 19th defeat of the season.
Mendy opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a fast counter-attack started by Luka Modric before Benzema extended their lead six minutes later after heading in a Vinicius cross.
It was Benzema’s 44th goal in all competitions this season as he leveled Raul Gonzalez for second place on Real’s all-time goalscoring list with 323 goals.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo is ahead of him with 451 goals.
The Frenchman is having a career year as La Liga top goalscorer with 27 goals.
Rodrygo scored the third with a close range strike after being provided with a fine assist from Modric, who also turned provider for Vinicius’s first goal.
Vinicius latched onto a Benzema cross in the 68th minute before the Brazilian sealed Real’s win with a close-range strike seven minutes from time.
Real Madrid could have scored more as Federico Valverde sent two bullet strikes off the bar.
“We have arrived well to this moment, our self-esteem has grown a lot and the team is enjoying their play,” coach Carlo Ancelotti told a news conference.
“We will have a challenge now to stay focused and keep the same intensity in this time between winning La Liga early and playing Liverpool in the Champions League final.
“The team gave very good signs today, played with rhythm and intensity. It’s what we wanted, high intensity.”
Other results saw Real Sociedad seal European competition next season with a 3-0 victory over Cadiz and Villarreal hammer Rayo Vallecano 5-1.
Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2022