PICS: Easy for Real Madrid; Roma go above Juventus

Images from Sunday’s action in La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1.

Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos were on target in the first half as the hosts easily beat listless Valencia 2-0 on Sunday to make it three wins in a row in La Liga.

Benzema got Zinedine Zidane’s side off to a strong start in the 12th minute when he collected a pass from Kroos on the edge of the area and had enough time and space to pick his spot and fire into the far bottom corner.

Kroos, who missed Tuesday’s 2-0 home win over Getafe through suspension, doubled their lead shortly before halftime, finishing off a flowing move by driving a first-time shot low into the net from the edge of the area.

The victory took Real back into second place on 49 points, five behind leaders Atletico Madrid who beat Granada 2-1 on Saturday and have two games in hand. Valencia are 12th on 24.

With Atleti, Barcelona and Sevilla all on relentless runs of form, Kroos said Real could not afford to drop any more points if they wanted to keep up with the pacesetters.

“The others just keep on winning so we have to try and do the same. If we want to have any chance of staying at the top we have to win all our games,” said the German.

“Every game we play we always try to win that’s all we can do, it’s what everyone else is doing so we have to try and do it too. We’re worried about the injuries as we’re missing some very important players but there’s not much we can do about it.”

Real were without seven players due to fitness issues and midway through the first half they lost Dani Carvajal to yet another injury on his return to action, taking the total number of injured defenders in their squad to five.

Yet even without some of their most influential players, including Sergio Ramos and Eden Hazard, they proved far too strong for Valencia, who had to make do without coach Javi Gracia on the sidelines due to a touchline ban.

Veretout double sets Roma up for easy win over Udinese

Jordan Veretout’s first-half double set AS Roma on their way to a 3-0 victory over Udinese in Serie A on Sunday and Paulo Fonseca’s side moved back above Juventus into third in the standings.

Juventus’s 0-1 defeat at Napoli on Saturday opened the door for Roma to regain third spot and Veretout’s glancing header after five minutes put the hosts on course for a comfortable win.

Veretout added his second and ninth Serie A goal of the season from the penalty spot in the 25th minute after Henrikh Mkhitaryan had been fouled.

Roma cruised through the second half, with Pedro adding a stoppage-time third to put the seal on a win that lifted Fonseca’s team on to 43 points, one ahead of champions Juventus. Udinese stayed 13th on 24 points.

“I think we had almost perfect moments offensively,” Fonseca said.

“What has needed to change is results. With some great players we played some good games this season, like against Juventus last week, but didn’t get the points we deserved.

“Today we were more clinical.”

Roma’s defeat at Juventus last weekend saw them surrender third spot, but they wasted no time in getting back on track at the Stadio Olimpico as Veretout arrived on cue to head Gianluca Mancini’s cross into the net.

His expertly-dispatched penalty ensured Frenchman Veretout has now bettered his best goal return for a league season.

Edin Dzeko, who had fallen out of favour after a recent dispute with Fonseca, got some minutes off the bench in the second half, but it was another substitute, former Chelsea forward Pedro, who curled home the third goal.

Lille reclaim top spot but Ligue 1 lead down to one point

Lille reclaimed top spot in Ligue 1 but their lead shrunk to a single point as they were held to a goalless home draw by Stade Brestois on Sunday.

The northerners, who had a goal disallowed by the VAR, have 55 points from 25 games as their six-match winning streak in the league came to and end.

Paris St Germain, the only top four side to claim three points this weekend after they beat Nice 2-1 on Saturday, are second on 54 points with third-placed Olympique Lyonnais on 52 after their 2-1 loss to Montpellier.

Monaco avoided a first defeat in 2021 as Wissam Ben Yedder, who bagged a double, netted three minutes into stoppage time to salvage a point in a 2-2 home draw against Lorient on Sunday.

The principality team are fourth on 49 points.

Elsewhere, Antoine Kombouare won his first game in charge as Nantes beat Angers 3-1 away to snap a 15-match winless streak.

After a lacklustre opening half, Lille increased the pressure but the visitors stayed compact at the back.

Jonathan David found the back of the net from close range but the goal was disallowed following a VAR review for a handball by Jose Fonte.

Lille ended the game with not a single shot on target.

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