Real Madrid 2-1 Elche: Benzema keeps Los Blancos' title hopes alive

By Sports Desk March 13, 2021

Real Madrid's LaLiga title hopes are still intact after Karim Benzema inspired a 2-1 comeback win over Elche on Saturday.

Having drawn their last two league fixtures, Madrid had the chance to leapfrog Barcelona into second place and close the gap on Atletico Madrid, temporarily at least, to five points.

But a lacklustre display looked like it would result in a third straight league draw – Benzema having cancelled out Dani Calvo's header.

Madrid's slim chances of catching Atleti were handed a late boost, however, when Benzema thundered in a supreme finish in stoppage time to snatch the points.

 

Related items

  • AFCON matchday preview: Revenge on the cards as giants collide AFCON matchday preview: Revenge on the cards as giants collide

    Ivory Coast and Egypt will contest arguably the tie of the round on Wednesday as the two giants hope to book their passage to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

    Carlos Queiroz's Pharaohs failed to impress during the group stage, ultimately reaching the knockouts thanks to 1-0 wins over Guinea-Bissau and Sudan, teams many would expect them to beat comfortably.

    They got the job done but now come up against one of the more eye-catching teams from the first round in Ivory Coast, who rounded off the group stage with a 3-1 win over defending champions Algeria.

    In Wednesday's other last-16 contest, and the final game of the round, surprise package Equatorial Guinea will hope to continue their promising campaign against Mali, who will be firm favourites.

    Ivory Coast v Egypt (16:00 GMT)

    Mohamed Salah and Egypt have struggled to rise to the occasion so far in Cameroon – if they cannot get themselves up for this, they will surely be heading home.

    This will be the 11th AFCON meeting between these two sides, making it the competition's most-played fixture, and Egypt boast a good record against the Elephants in knockout games.

    Ivory Coast have not been successful in any of the previous four elimination clashes – the two most recent were in the 2006 final when Egypt won on penalties, and the semi-final two years later as they ran out 4-1 winners.

    As such, Ivory Coast will surely feel they have a score to settle, and Egypt's record of losing each of their past two AFCON knockout matches should give them some optimism.

    One to watch: Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)

    He may be struggling to get a look-in at club level with Arsenal, but Pepe is undoubtedly key for the Elephants. Only Algeria's Youcef Belaili (24) was directly involved in more shots than him in the group stage (19 – 12 shots, seven chances created), while the former Lille winger has been directly involved in more goals than any other Ivory Coast player in the tournament so far (three – two goals, one assist).

     

    Mali v Equatorial Guinea (19:00)

    Mali may have come through the group stage unbeaten, but Equatorial Guinea will not be writing themselves off producing a shock here.

    After all, Les Aigles have had to largely rely on penalties to get their goals, highlighting that their route to this stage has not been entirely emphatic, while Equatorial Guinea have overcome greater odds.

    In their previous four AFCON knockout games, they have progressed twice – both of those came in 2015, when they caused upsets by getting past Tunisia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    This edition of the tournament has seen its fair share of shocks already. Could Mali be the latest to be guilty of complacency?

    One to watch: Adama Noss Traore (Mali)

    As mentioned, Mali have almost entirely got by on penalties, with three of their four goals coming via Ibrahima Kone's spot-kicks. That meant they scored just once from 27 open play shots in the group stage, yet their non-penalty expected goals (xG) of 3.6 suggests chance creation was not the issue. Traore was their most effective player in that respect with his set-piece deliveries, tallying a squad-high key passes.

     

  • AFCON quarter-finals to be moved following Olembe Stadium tragedy, CAF calls for immediate investigation AFCON quarter-finals to be moved following Olembe Stadium tragedy, CAF calls for immediate investigation

    Patrice Motsepe, president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), has called for an immediate investigation into an incident at Olembe Stadium that resulted in the deaths of eight people, while he confirmed upcoming Africa Cup of Nations matches would be relocated.

    Eight people died and a further 38 were injured after a stampede outside the stadium in Yaounde during Monday's match between tournament hosts Cameroon and Comoros.

    CAF has started an investigation, while FIFA offered its condolences in a briefing on Tuesday.

    In a media briefing, CAF president Motsepe confirmed the quarter-final tie due to be hosted at Olembe Stadium on Sunday, which will take place between the winner of Ivory Coast's clash with Egypt and the victor of Morocco v Malawi, would be moved to Yaounde's Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.

    "I've been given lots of feedback and had lots of discussions until very early this morning," Motsepe said on Tuesday.

    "The first thing that I’m going to ask the organising committees, the next match that's supposed to take place at the Olembe Stadium should not take place."

    Motsepe also confirmed CAF had requested a report on the incident be completed by Friday.

    "I spoke to the senior person in the government, and it's correct out of respect for our partners, to indicate that there must be an immediate committee set up to investigate what happened," he said.

    "In that context, to find out who was supposed to do what and who did not perform their responsibilities.

    "We want that report by Friday but as I said the game that is scheduled for Olembe Stadium on Sunday is not going to take place and it’s going to take place at Amadou. There will be other changes that will be made."

    One of those other changes is reportedly moving Sunday's other quarter-final from Douala to Limbe.

    A media release attributed to the Cameroon team was released on Tuesday, bearing the name of captain Vincent Aboubakar, was retweeted by the Cameroonian Football Federation (FECAFOOT) and appeared to question the behaviour of supporters in a statement that has received widespread criticism.

  • Australian Open: Berrettini makes Italian tennis history again to set up Nadal semi-final Australian Open: Berrettini makes Italian tennis history again to set up Nadal semi-final

    Matteo Berrettini became the first Italian man to reach the Australian Open semi-finals after outlasting Gael Monfils on Tuesday.

    Berrettini had appeared to be on course for a dominant victory, and although Monfils fought back to make it tough, the 25-year-old got the job done 6-4 6-4 3-6 3-6 6-2 in a gruelling encounter.

    Monfils had an uphill struggle amid a sloppy start, with Berrettini breaking to love in the fifth game as the Frenchman committed two unforced errors and a double fault.

    That proved to be the only opportunity Berrettini needed, and he subsequently had few issues seeing out the set from there, though Monfils initially appeared sharper early in the second.

    An astonishing fourth game then left Monfils looking dejected as Berrettini somehow survived 10 deuces to hold serve after almost 20 minutes – the 25 points played here were almost half the first-set total (55).

    Berrettini sensed the mood and went for the kill, losing just two points on serve before going on to close out the set to love.

    A reaction did come, however. Monfils finally got his first break of serve as Berrettini's first double fault gifted him a lifeline, the 35-year-old then easing through the rest of the third set.

    He kept that up in the fourth as well, with two huge forehand winners helping Monfils go a break up to take charge before ultimately levelling the match, but Berrettini had too much in the decider as he broke in the first game.

    Berrettini raced into a 4-0 lead and, although Monfils did pull a couple of games back, the Italian was out of sight and clinched a deserved victory that saw him grab a slice of history.

    DATA SLAM: Berrettini holds his nerve at the crucial moment

    Having lost the previous two sets heading into the decider, it could have been very tempting for Berrettini to completely change up his game, but he remained very focused on accuracy and essentially letting Monfils shoot himself in the foot.

    Berrettini made no double faults and just four unforced errors in the final set, compared to Monfils' combined total of 11, 10 of which came during rallies. The Italian won 80 per cent of his points on serve in the fifth and that mentality was crucial in outlasting his opponent.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

    Berrettini – 51/50

    Monfils – 48/51

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

    Berrettini – 12/2

    Monfils – 15/7

    BREAK POINTS WON

    Berrettini – 4/11

    Monfils – 3/14

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.