Ballon d’Or winner Benzema scores as Madrid beats Elche 3-0

MADRID (AP) — Karim Benzema and referee Jesús Gil Manzano looked at each other and started to laugh.

The Ballon d’Or winner couldn’t bear seeing another one of his goals being disallowed. He had already found the net twice, but neither had counted because of offside.

That third one did, though, and Madrid defeated Elche 3-0 on Wednesday to increase its Spanish league lead after defeating Barcelona in the first “clásico” of the season on Sunday.

Madrid opened a six-point lead over its Catalan rival, which will host seventh-place Villarreal on Thursday. It was the ninth win in 10 matches for the defending champions. Madrid remains the only unbeaten team in the league.

Earlier, the start of the match between Real Sociedad and Mallorca was delayed for about 15 minutes after a Sociedad fan fell ill in the stands and later died.

Benzema, who on Monday won the Ballon d’Or award for best player of the year, had his goals disallowed for offside in the sixth and 61st minutes. He also caused a David Alaba goal to be called off for being offside in the 26th. All calls came after video review.

Benzema’s goal from inside the area in the 75th after a back-heel assist by Rodrygo counted, though, and the French striker could laugh about it after Manzano finally confirmed the goal.

“It’s the first time they call off three goals for my team,” the 21-year-old Rodrygo said. “It was a weird game, but in the end we are happy that we scored three other times and got the win.”

Federico Valverde had opened the scoring from just outside the area with a shot with the outside of his left foot in the 11th.

Substitute Marco Asensio sealed the victory after another assist by Rodrygo in the 89th.

Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, replacing the injured Thibaut Courtois, made a superb reflex save off a header by Carlos Clerc to avoid the equalizer in the 70th.

Elche, the only team yet to win in the Spanish league this season, had drawn two in a row, including at Valencia over the weekend.

SOCIEDAD KEEPS ROLLING

Mikel Merino scored in the sixth minute as Real Sociedad defeated Mallorca 1-0 at home for its eighth straight win in all competitions.

The start of the game was delayed after a Sociedad fan fell ill. Emergency personnel were called in to help him in the stands and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The club and players dedicated the victory to the fan and his family.

The win moved the Basque Country club to third place in the Spanish league, two points ahead of Atlético Madrid, which was held to a 1-1 home draw against Rayo Vallecano on Tuesday.

It was the fifth consecutive league victory for Sociedad.

Mallorca, winless in four league games, dropped to 15th place.

BETIS HELD

Real Betis dropped to fifth place after being held by Cádiz to a scoreless draw on the road.

Second-to-last-place Cádiz, still winless at home, has drawn four straight matches. It had its chances to pick up the victory on Wednesday but couldn’t get past Betis goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

VALLADOLID’S VICTORY

Sergio Leon scored twice in a five-minute span in the second half as Valladolid defeated Celta Vigo 4-1 at home for its second win in four matches.

Roque Mesa and Joaquín Fernández also scored for the club owned by former Brazil star Ronaldo, which moved to 11th place.

Óscar Rodríguez scored for Celta, which has lost three in a row and dropped to 13th.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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