MADRID (AP) — Karim Benzema converted two first-half penalty kicks in Real Madrid’s 4-0 win over Elche on Wednesday and became the team’s second-highest scorer in the Spanish league with 230 goals.
Marco Asensio and Luka Modric also scored as Madrid won at home to get back within eight points of Barcelona in a game postponed because of the Club World Cup.
Madrid won its eighth world club title last weekend in Morocco. Barcelona had increased its league lead with a 1-0 win at Villarreal on Sunday.
The 35-year-old Benzema entered the match even with Madrid great Raúl with 228 league goals — second to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 311.
“Benzema is much more than just a striker,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “He is a very complete player. He has a fantastic career and hopefully he will keep adding to it.”
It was Benzema’s fifth goal in his last six matches. He had also scored in the Club World Cup final against Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal after being out for a brief period because of an injury.
The Club World Cup trophy was displayed to the fans at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium before Wednesday’s match and Elche’s players did the guard of honor for Madrid’s squad.
Madrid had won only one of its last three league matches and was coming off a loss at Mallorca before traveling to Morocco.
“We knew we had to win, it was important to keep pace with Barcelona,” Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos said. “Eight points in not an insurmountable gap. This team will keep fighting until the last match.”
Madrid got the win despite playing without several regular starters. Forward Vinícius Júnior was out because of a suspension on accumulation of yellow cards. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, midfielder Toni Kroos, forward Eden Hazard and defender Ferland Mendy were all out injured.
Asensio opened the scoring in the eighth minute before Benzema got his goals from the penalty spot in the 31st and in the first minute of first-half stoppage time. Modric closed the scoring with a shot into the top corner from inside the area in the 80th.
Last-place Elche arrived 12 points from safety but was boosted by its first league win of the season against Villarreal on Saturday. It has nine points from 21 matches.
Madrid next visits ninth-place Osasuna on Saturday, while Elche hosts 17th-place Espanyol on Sunday.