Barcelona, 19 June 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Marco Asensio scored with his first touch after 10 months out injured as Real Madrid beat Valencia 3-0 to move back within two points of Barcelona at the top of La Liga on Thursday.
Asensio had an operation on his left cruciate knee ligament last August, having sustained the injury in a friendly against Arsenal.
He made an impact from the bench when Ferland Mendy tricked his way to the byline and crossed for him to volley side-footed past Jasper Cillessen on 74 minutes.
Madrid had taken the lead on 61 minutes at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium when Karim Benzema scored running on to an Eden Hazard pass after the Belgian had swapped passes with Luka Modric.
Benzema made it 3-0 when he took a pass from Asensio on 86 minutes and with two touches sent a volley past Cillessen.
Asensio said: “I had so much desire to return. I’m so glad to be back and to get on the scoresheet. There is a lot of work behind this.
“We started well, but Valencia improved and had chances. We knew we had to pick things up in the second half, and we did.
“We have nine finals left to play, and we have to win them.”
Madrid had struggled to make inroads in the first half, and Valencia thought they had taken the lead on 21 minutes.
Rodrigo Moreno slipped the ball past Thibaut Courtois from Carlos Soler’s pass, but the goal was ruled out by the video assistant referee for offside against Maxi Gomez.
“I don’t understand why it was ruled out. Maxi was not interfering with play. But it serves no purpose to complain about it,” Rodrigo said.
Captains Sergio Ramos and Dani Parejo held up a Madrid shirt before kick-off that carried a message of support for former Barcelona assistant coach Juan Carlos Unzue who revealed Thursday that he is suffering from motor neurone disease.
Earlier Thursday, Real Sociedad’s miserable restart to the season in Spain continued when they lost 2-0 away to Alaves.
Sociedad had been in the fourth Champions League spot when football stopped back in March. But with one point from six, Sociedad has been overtaken by Atletico Madrid.
Borja Sainz got the first on 59 minutes, and Martin Aguirregabiria added a second deep into injury time. The result leaves Alaves 10 points clear of the bottom three.
“We are a step closer to our objective,” said Sainz. “We are going to do our best to finish the job.”
Real Sociedad’s Igor Zubeldia said the team was not at their best, and that “it was the same in the last game.”
“We had plenty of the ball, but we didn’t really test them, and if you don’t hurt teams with the possession you can’t win games,” he said.
“Now, we have another opportunity this coming Sunday.”