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Karim Benzema Brace Powers Real Madrid Past Levante

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2019

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 14: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid celebrates during the La Liga Santander  match between Real Madrid v Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu on September 14, 2019 in Madrid Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Karim Benzema netted a brace for Real Madrid as they edged out Levante 3-2 win at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga on Saturday as Eden Hazard made his debut from the bench.

The Frenchman opened the scoring in the 25th minute and doubled his tally six minutes later to give the hosts control over the contest.

Casemiro made it even more comfortable with his strike five minutes before the break.

Madrid loanee Borja Mayoral pulled one back for the visitors in the 49th minute, though, while Gonzalo Melero scored with 15 minutes remaining to set up a tense finish.

The victory is just Real's second win of the season. Real have still only kept two clean sheets in 15 matches since Zinedine Zidane returned to the dugout in March.

The visitors looked dangerous early on, with Mayoral coming close when he met Ruben Rochina's free-kick.

Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez had to be alert from the outset to deny Benzema, though. He also made a fine double-save to deny Toni Kroos before keeping out a strike from Benzema that looked destined for the top corner.

Lucas Vazquez hit the post as the hosts turned the screw, and Los Blancos were rewarded for their pressure when Benzema headed home Dani Carvajal's cross:

Premier Sports 📺 @PremierSportsTV

⚽ Benzema gives Real Madrid a 1-0 lead over Levante with a towering header! 📺 Watch the first half LIVE now on Premier Sports 1 https://t.co/zo16eCXoJk

The Spanish Football Podcast shared the Frenchman's impressive recent record at home:

The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast

Benzema now scored 8 of Real Madrid's last 11 goals at the Bernabeu (5 of those headers)

He improved it further six minutes later with a clinical finish after a one-two with James Rodriguez.

Casemiro increased Real's lead again before the break after Vinicius Jr. picked him out in space.

Managing Madrid's Kiyan Sobhani gave a positive assessment of Real at half-time:

Kiyan Sobhani @KiyanSo

Not much to nitpick. Casemiro and Carvajal have both stood out on both ends of the field for me, but obviously others are playing really well too. James's pressing / positioning / quick thinking great. Benzema lethal. Vinicius is in his head a bit, but needed that assist.

Los Blancos' start to the second half left much to be desired, however, as they conceded inside four minutes when Mayoral converted Carlos Clerc's cross:

Premier Sports 📺 @PremierSportsTV

🔴🔵 Borja Mayoral scores against his parent club and gives Levante a lifeline! 👀 Could this be the start of a comeback? 40 minutes to go live on Premier Sports 1! https://t.co/CER93eX5EG

Vinicius thought he'd added a fourth goal for Madrid, but his effort was disallowed for an offside against Rodriguez following a video assistant referee review.

Hazard entered the fray with half an hour remaining, and he was denied a debut goal by a save from Fernandez.

Levante cut the deficit down to one in the 75th minute through Melero's header, but Los Blancos survived a nervy finish to secure all three points.

                      

What's Next

Real take on Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday before returning to domestic action in La Liga on September 22 against Sevilla. The day before, Levante will host Eibar.

                      

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