Benzema magic puts Real ahead in title chase

Sports | REUTERS 30 Jun 2020

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema produced an audacious back-heeled assist for Brazilian Casemiro to score as they beat Espanyol 1-0 to capitalize on Barcelona's slip-up and move two points clear at the top of La Liga.

Casemiro slid to the ground to guide the ball home on the stroke of half-time after being played in by a stroke of genius from Benzema, who dragged the ball through the legs of his marker Bernardo Espinosa to find his teammate.

"The goal belongs to Karim," Casemiro said. "We're used to the quality he brings to his play and I had to celebrate it with him because it was all down to him."

Coach Zinedine Zidane added: "I'm not surprised by what Karim did at all, he is a player who keeps inventing things on the pitch and his control and backheel was super. It might be the best piece of play of the season."

Real's fifth consecutive victory took them top on 71 points after 32 games. Barca, who were held to a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo on Saturday, are second on 69.

Espanyol, playing their first game under caretaker Francisco Rufete after he became their fourth manager of a troubling campaign, remain rooted to the bottom on 24 points.

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