Marco Asensio scores twice as Real Madrid surge to win over Real Betis


Press Association

Real Madrid continued their recent resurgence with a 5-3 victory over Real Betis in La Liga. The midweek Champions League triumph over Paris St-Germain made it four games unbeaten for Zinedine Zidane’s side and they produced another clinical display to avenge Betis’ Bernabéu win in September.

Madrid appeared to be on course for a routine victory after Marco Asensio’s early strike, only for Los Verdiblancos to turn the game on its head through Aïssa Mandi’s header and Nacho’s own goal.

Sergio Ramos nodded home an equaliser early in the second half before Asensio and Cristiano Ronaldo scored to give Real Madrid a two-goal cushion.

Sergio León’s close-range finish ensured a nervy final few minutes for Zidane’s team but Karim Benzema made sure of the win in stoppage time with only his third goal of the season.

Real became the first team in La Liga history to reach 6,000 goals in the competition. They had been forced to defend countless home attacks and their problems grew as Marcelo hobbled off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. Real had been decidedly second best during the first half but were a different proposition after the interval.

The result moved them to within a point of third-placed Valencia but they are 10 behind their cross-city rivals Atlético Madrid, who kept up their chase of the leaders, Barcelona, with a 2-0 home victory over Athletic Bilbao.

Kevin Gameiro and Diego Costa struck second-half goals to make it four straight league wins for Atlético and reduce Barcelona’s lead at the top once more to seven points.

The deadlock was broken after 67 minutes when Ángel Correa, Saúl Ñíguez and Antoine Griezmann combined for the substitute Gameiro to drill home a low shot.

Gameiro then set up Costa 10 minutes from time, the Spain striker finishing smartly for his second league goal since returning to action last month. Bilbao have now gone six league games without a win as their slide down La Liga continued.

Real Sociedad bounced back from a 5-2 thumping at Real Madrid to ease to a 3-0 win at home to Levante, who stay two points above the relegation zone.

The home side got off to the perfect start as Xabi Prieto put them ahead from the penalty spot in the seventh minute following Sasa Lukic’s pull on Imanol Agirretxe. Sergio Canales set up the second goal for Juanmi before the break. A solo effort from Canales in the 54th minute made it three.

Espanyol edged away from the bottom three as Esteban Granero’s late equaliser secured a 1-1 draw with Villarreal.

Pablo Fornals struck a post for Villarreal before Rodrigo put the visitors ahead in the 25th minute with his first La Liga goal, the young midfielder smashing home after Enes Ünal’s shot had been blocked.

Espanyol did not manage an on-target attempt until Gerard’s speculative overhead kick 10 minutes from time. But mounting home pressure saw Granero curl an 18-yard free-kick over the Villarreal wall.

In Italy Juventus’s 1-0 derby win against Torino on Sunday came at a cost, with Gonzalo Higuaín limping off with an apparent left ankle injury before Alex Sandro’s first-half winner.

Higuaín was left grimacing on the pitch three minutes in after making contact near the byline with the Torino goalkeeper, Salvatore Sirigu, who had moved off his line to break up a Juventus attack. After staying on for another 10 minutes the forward was replaced by Federico Bernardeschi.

After the match Juve’s head coach, Massimiliano Allegri, moved to play down concerns over the injury. “Gonzalo got knocked. He should be OK in a couple of days,” Allegri said. Higuaín scored twice in the 2-2 draw with Spurs in Turin last Tuesday and looks set to be available for the return leg on 7 March.

With half an hour gone Bernardeschi set up Alex Sandro’s goal, dribbling past a defender then providing the cross for the full-back to tap in from close range.

Juventus held out for their ninth successive league win and temporarily moved two points clear of Napoli – but Maurizio Sarri’s side regained top spot in the table by matching that run with a 1-0 home win against the struggling Spal.

Lorenzo Insigne hit the post for the hosts, who lost at home against RB Leipzig in the Europa League in midweek, in the fourth minute before Allan finished a fine attacking move moments later. Marek Hamsik’s header was ruled out by the VAR for offside but the title challengers held on to win by a single goal.

Benevento lost their first 14 games in their debut Serie A season but earned their third win of the campaign against Crotone through Cheick Diabaté’s late winner. Despite the victory the league’s bottom club are still 11 points behind their opponents, who are just above the relegation zone. In Sunday afternoon’s other match Erick Pulgar’s late goal earned Bologna victory against their local rivals Sassuolo.



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