Benzema header beats Sevilla and breathes life back into Real
Real Madrid produced a gutsy performance to earn a 1-0 win at Sevilla, on Sunday, which took them level on points at the top of La Liga, having been wounded by a humiliating Champions League defeat at Paris St Germain in midweek.
Benzema gave the visitors the lead against former Real coach Julen Lopetegui's Sevilla midway through the second half in a tense game, timing his jump perfectly to meet a cross by Dani Carvajal from the byline and send the ball high into the net.
Sevilla's former Madrid striker Javier Hernandez put the ball in the net for the hosts late on but his effort was ruled out for offside and Real hung on to claim their first win at the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in five seasons.
The victory saw Madrid climb into second place on 11 points after five games, level with leaders Athletic Bilbao, who beat visitors Alaves 2-0 on Sunday.
Sevilla began the weekend in top spot but tumbled to fifth on 10 points. Champions Barcelona are eighth on seven points after Saturday's shock 2-0 defeat at promoted Granada.
"Real Madrid never loses its hunger or its desire to win," captain Sergio Ramos told reporters.
"We knew how difficult this game would be, we hadn't won here for many years, but we arrived with a very strong mentality and intent on committing as few errors as possible. Apart from a couple of set pieces, we had the game under control."
Real had lost on their last four league visits to the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium and were thrashed 3-0 there last season, a game that spelled the beginning of the end for Lopetegui, who was sacked by the club little more than a month later.
Current coach Zinedine Zidane travelled to Seville facing serious questions about his own leadership of the team after they were hammered 3-0 by PSG in their Champions League group stage opener after failing to have a shot on target.
But Real produced a very different type of performance this time, which Zidane hailed as the best he had seen since returning to the club in March.
"It's the game which leaves me the most satisfied since I came back, everyone on the pitch helped out," he said.
"We had difficult moments but we showed great solidarity with each other in those moments. We played 90 minutes at a top level at a very difficult stadium. This is a victory for the group and I'm delighted for everyone."
Sevilla's entire squad had only recently returned from a gruelling 12,000-km round trip to Baku to face Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday and lacked their usual aggression and intensity as a scrappy game ensued.
Carvajal had the visitors' best chance before the interval, firing straight at keeper Tomas Vaclik from inside the area, while Gareth Bale also tested the Czech with a stinging free kick.
Neither side looked willing to take a risk to try and take the lead but the deadlock was finally broken thanks to some clever teamwork from the visitors, as Bale released Carvajal down the right wing and Benzema produced the perfect finish.
The goal sparked Sevilla into life and they spent most of the remaining minutes pressing for an equaliser, but Real dug deep to grind out a hugely significant victory.
"We did what we came here to achieve and now we can relax again after everything that was said about us this week," added Ramos.
"This team is always optimistic, and we are going to get better. It's a long season and we're already joint-top of the league."
Napoli thrash Lecce to move up to third
A Fernando Llorente double helped Napoli move into third place in Serie A with a 4-1 win at Lecce on Sunday, while Edin Dzeko scored a last-gasp winner as Roma beat Bologna 2-1.
Spaniard Llorente struck the opening goal on his first start for Carlo Ancelotti’s side before Lorenzo Insigne doubled their lead with a penalty before the break.
Fabian Ruiz’s curling strike made it three before Marco Mancosu pulled one back for Lecce from the penalty spot, but Llorente made sure of the points with a tap-in.
In Bologna, Roma defender Aleksandar Kolarov went from hero to zero in the space of five second-half minutes as he scored a superb free-kick before conceding a penalty to gift Nicola Sansone the equaliser.
Roma’s Gianluca Mancini was shown a second yellow card with five minutes remaining but Dzeko powered home a header from point-blank range in the dying seconds to send the capital club fourth.
Napoli are third on nine points, one behind Juventus and three off leaders Inter Milan, while Roma are one point behind them and Bologna occupy fifth place on seven points.
Elsewhere, Sampdoria earned their first points of the season with a 1-0 win over Torino, while Francesco Caputo scored twice in Sassuolo's 3-0 victory against SPAL.
Former Tottenham Hotspur striker Llorente earned a starting spot for the first time since joining Napoli on a free transfer on deadline day.
The 34-year-old scored in the 2-0 Champions League victory over Liverpool during the week and was again decisive as he latched on to a deflected shot to roll in Napoli’s opener after 28 minutes.
Insigne then scored from the spot at the second time of asking after goalkeeper Gabriel was pinged for coming off his line early when he saved the first effort, resulting in a retake.
Ruiz struck a sublime third after the break before Mancosu gave the home side hope from the spot, but Llorente ended any suggestion of a comeback when he pounced on Gabriel's parry to tap in his side’s fourth with eight minutes remaining.
Bologna and Roma were both unbeaten going into Sunday's meeting and Dzeko’s last-minute header ended an eight-match winning home run for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side.
Kolarov curled a wonderful free kick into the top corner from the edge of the area after 49 minutes to put the visitors in front. However, he then tripped up Roberto Soriano inside the box just four minutes later, allowing Sansone to send Roma goalkeeper Pau Lopez the wrong way.
Bologna threatened a shock win as Lopez was forced into a superb save on Soriano before Mancini was given his marching orders for throwing an arm in the face of Federico Santander.
Dzeko rose to head in the winner in the final minute of added time to wrap up the points.
Dortmund have to settle for 2-2 draw after late own goal
Borussia Dortmund's Michael Delaney turned a Daichi Kamada shot into his own net in the 88th minute to hand hosts Eintracht Frankfurt an unexpected 2-2 draw on Sunday as his team dropped to third place in the Bundesliga.
Dortmund, fresh from their midweek 0-0 draw at home to Barcelona in the Champions League group stage, had twice taken the lead -- through Axel Witsel in the 11th minute and Jadon Sancho in the 66th.
But Eintracht first came back with a 45th minute Andre Silva goal before Delaney's unlucky clearance from Kamada's shot landed in the Dortmund goal and earned the hosts a point.
RB Leipzig are top on 13 points after a 3-0 win at Werder Bremen on Saturday. Champions Bayern Munich, who crushed Cologne 4-0, are in second place on 11, with Dortmund third on 10.
Rennes denied Ligue 1 top spot by Lille
Stade Rennais missed out on the opportunity to go top of the Ligue 1 table when they were held 1-1 at home by Lille on Sunday.
Adrien Hunou cancelled out Jonathan Ikone's second-half strike as Rennes moved up to third on 11 points from six matches, leaving Lille in fifth, one point adrift.
French international Ikone opened the scoring one minute into the second half by latching onto Victor Osimhen's cross, only for Hunou to head home for the hosts in the 68th minute.
Leaders Paris St Germain, with 12 points from five games, travel to Olympique Lyonnais later on Sunday.