Vinicius Junior, Benzema lead Madrid to win at Valencia

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's first goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Valencia and Real Madrid at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

MADRID — Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema added to their impressive starts to the season by scoring late goals in Real Madrid’s 2-1 win against Valencia in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Vinicius Junior scored his fourth goal of the season in the 86th minute, and Benzema netted his sixth two minutes later to give Madrid its third straight win in the league.

The victory leaves Madrid top with 13 points, two more than defending champion Atletico Madrid, which was held 0-0 at home by Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Valencia, which entered the weekend tied for first with Madrid and Atletico, opened the scoring with a goal from Hugo Duro in the 66th.

Valencia had won its first two matches at Mestalla for the first time since 2014-15, when it went on to win five in a row at home. Madrid was coming off three victories in all competitions, including at Inter Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti couldn’t count on several players because of injuries, including Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Marcelo.

SEVILLA HOLDS SOCIEDAD

Mikel Oyarzabal missed a first-half penalty kick as Real Sociedad was held to a 0-0 draw against Sevilla in a matchup between teams expected to be near the top at the end of the season.

Oyarzabal had his 27th-minute penalty stopped by Sevilla goalkeeper Bono, who also came up with some key saves later in the game.

It was Sociedad’s second consecutive draw after three straight victories in all competitions. Sevilla drew its last three games.

Sociedad is fourth in the standings, with Sevilla in sixth place.

ESPANYOL EQUALIZES LATE

Leandro Cabrera scored seven minutes into injury time as Espanyol salvaged a 2-2 draw at 10-man Real Betis.

Aleix Vidal put Espanyol ahead in the 16th before Betis rallied with goals by Willian Jose in the 41st and Nabil Fekir in first-half stoppage time.

The hosts played a man down from the 78th after a red card for German Pezzella.

Espanyol, which had conceded nine minutes into stoppage time in a loss to Atletico Madrid, is yet to win in the league this season, with three draws and two losses.

HOPPE DEBUTS

American forward Matthew Hoppe came off the bench in the second half to make his debut with Mallorca in a 0-0 draw against Villarreal, missing out on the potential winner after his late goal was called off for offside.

Hoppe entered the game in the 60th and had his goal disallowed after a breakaway in the 82nd. He converted a cross by Joan Sastre into the net but the linesman ruled him offside. Video review confirmed the call.

The 20-year-old Hoppe joined Mallorca from German club Schalke at the end of the transfer window this summer. Hoppe, who is from Yorba Linda, California, played for the LA Galaxy Academy and signed with Schalke in July 2019. He made his U.S. national team debut on July 15 against Martinique in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Mallorca had won two of its last three league matches against Villarreal, whose winless streak to start the league reached four matches. Unai Emery’s team hasn’t won in six matches in all competitions this season.

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