Benzema strike earns Real victory over Mallorca

Reuters , Sunday 23 Jan 2011

French striker Karim Benzema scores the winner in Real Madrid's narrow 1-0 victory over Mallorca

Real Madrid

Karim Benzema went some way to justifying the 35 million euros ($49 million) Real Madrid paid to sign him when his goal secured a scrappy 1-0 home win over Real Mallorca in La Liga on Sunday.

Under coach Jose Mourinho, the France international has started most games on the bench, scoring only one goal before Sunday, and the club have said they are looking for another striker to replace the injured Gonzalo Higuain.

Real struggled to create chances against a gritty Mallorca, who held them to a 0-0 draw on the opening day of the season, and looked in danger of dropping points for a second successive game until Benzema netted in the 61st minute.

The former Olympique Lyon forward picked up a pass on the edge of the penalty area, created space for himself and sent a low shot past Mallorca’s Israel goalkeeper Dudu Aouate.

La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo sent a looping header against the bar with just under 10 minutes left and Real survived a scare at the death when Iker Casillas saved Pierre Webo’s close-range strike.

The win prevented Real from slipping further behind leaders Barcelona, who were seven ahead before kickoff after beating Racing Santander 3-0 on Saturday.

In Sunday’s earlier games, Atletico Madrid’s hopes of a Champions League place next season were dealt a blow when they lost 1-0 at struggling Sporting Gijon.

Surprise packages Espanyol continued their fine run with a 3-1 comeback win at Getafe and are two points behind fourth-placed Villarreal, who host Real Sociedad in Sunday’s late kickoff .

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