La Liga: Benzema strikes late for Real Madrid, Barcelona thrash Valladolid

Karim Benzema scored twice in the closing minutes to give Real Madrid a 3-1 win at Espanyol on Sunday as the champions left it late to maintain their 100% record.

Vinícius Júnior opened the scoring early in the first half with a first-touch finish from a brilliant pass by Aurelién Tchouaméni, but Joselu levelled for Espanyol from a rebound just before half-time.

The hosts looked the more likely to find a breakthrough in the second half, but with two minutes left Rodrygo found Benzema at the far post with a perfect cross and the French striker put Madrid back in front.

In added time, Espanyol’s keeper Benjamin Lecomte brought down Dani Ceballos on the edge of the area and was shown a straight red card after a VAR review. With defender Leandro Cabrera taking the gloves, Benzema took charge of the free-kick, bending it into the bottom corner to wrap up the points.

Earlier, Robert Lewandowski scored his second consecutive double as Barcelona breezed past Real Valladolid with a comfortable 4-0 La Liga victory at Camp Nou.

Barça were finally able to deploy the defender Jules Koundé, the France international who missed the first two games of the season with Barcelona unable to register him as they struggled to comply with La Liga’s financial fair play rules. Koundé played from the start and had a solid showing as Barça dominated and never gave Valladolid a chance.

Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembélé went close for Barcelona, hitting the post early on. But it did not take long for the hosts to open the scoring, as Lewandowski volleyed home from close range from a perfect Raphinha cross to the far post in the 24th minute.

Barcelona extended their lead right before half-time through Pedri, who rifled a curling strike into the top-left corner after a nice pass by Dembélé from the right touchline. Lewandowski scored Barça’s third in the 65th minute with a brilliant backheel that deflected off a defender before beating the goalkeeper, Jordi Masip.

The Poland striker had a golden opportunity to complete a hat-trick in added time, but Masip made a great stop to keep out his close-range shot. Sergi Roberto, however, was in the right place to strike home the rebound.

“It was a complete game but far from perfect,” Barça’s coach, Xavi Hernández, told Dazn. “We gave them too many chances at the end, you just can’t afford to relax in this game. Even going 3-0 [ahead] we have to keep pushing, but we’re happy. I can’t demand more effort from them than they have done.”

In Spain’s other Sunday kick-off, Villarreal dropped their first points of the season after a goalless draw at Getafe.