Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti backed Karim Benzema to bounce back after missing two penalties in the 3-1 win over Osasuna on Wednesday.

Ante Budimir cancelled out David Alaba's 12th-minute opener before Marco Asensio restored Madrid's advantage at El Sadar.

Benzema was then twice denied by Sergio Herrera from 12 yards as the France star became the first player to miss two penalties in a LaLiga game since Raul Tamudo against Real Betis in April 2006.

Lucas Vazquez sealed victory for the league leaders in stoppage time as Madrid moved 17 points clear of nearest challengers Atletico Madrid, with distant chasers Sevilla and Barcelona playing on Thursday.

Speaking after the game, Ancelotti was quick to defend Benzema, who leads LaLiga scoring charts with 25 goals to this season.

"Penalties are missed by those who take them, it won't affect Benzema. Karim played a super game, he's going to score the next game," he said.

Alaba limped off at half-time and was subsequently withdrawn at the interval, but Ancelotti did not appear concerned about the centre-back's injury.

"We are optimistic with Alaba. We removed him as a precaution, he has been overloaded with a lot of work," the Italian added.

Madrid will now turn their attention to the Champions League semi-final first-leg clash at Manchester City on Tuesday, and Ancelotti insists his focus will be solely on that tie and not securing the league title.

"The title? We plan to prepare well for the next match, which is the semi-final of the Champions League," he continued.

"Then let's see what happens. We need to win. We are focused on the semi-final match and I think we are going to arrive in good form."

Real Madrid moved one step closer to the LaLiga title with a 3-1 victory at Osasuna despite Karim Benzema twice failing from the penalty spot on Wednesday.

Madrid needed a stunning comeback to win 3-2 at Sevilla after a slow start on Sunday, but were quick out the blocks at El Sadar as David Alaba struck after 12 minutes before Ante Budimir immediately equalised.

Marco Asensio restored Madrid's lead in the 45th minute and, after Benzema saw two penalties saved by Sergio Herrera in the second half, Lucas Vazquez sealed victory in stoppage-time.

Victory moved Madrid 17 points clear of Atletico Madrid, with distant chasers Sevilla and Barcelona also in action against Levante and Real Sociedad respectively on Thursday.

Rodrygo forced a smart Herrera stop with a long-range effort in the opening exchanges, but Madrid were soon ahead.

A quick free-kick from Asensio and Dani Ceballos found space for Benzema, before the striker squared for Alaba, who fortuitously bundled home on the rebound from a Herrera reflex save.

Osasuna responded a minute later when Chimy Avila whipped across from the right for Budimir to tap-in.

Asensio pounced on Ceballos' saved close-range effort to poke Madrid ahead again on the stroke of half-time, before Thibaut Courtois excellently denied a looping Budimir header after the interval.

Avila then handled when trying to stop Rodrygo to offer Madrid a penalty, which Herrera saved against Benzema.

Benzema went for the same bottom-left corner after Rodrygo was felled by Nacho Vidal, with Herrera again guessing the right way.

Vinicius Junior then rolled wide on the counter before teeing up Vazquez, who finished into the bottom-left corner to confirm the win.

What does it mean? Title procession continues for Madrid

Madrid's title charge has been characterised by their fighting spirit to come through adversity to secure victory, and their performance at El Sadar was no different.

Los Blancos weathered an early storm from the hosts to take the half-time lead and, although Benzema twice failed from 12 yards, battled to victory over Osasuna, who have not defeated Madrid in 14 top-flight meetings.

Now, Ancelotti's team will tick off another fixture as they edge closer towards lifting the LaLiga trophy.

 

Rampant Rodrygo spares Benzema blushes

Winger Rodrygo was the star of the show as his half-time introduction sparked a comeback against Sevilla, and he was on form again against Osasuna as he won two penalties and laid on a game-high four chances.

The Brazil international's creative excellence did not prove fruitful for Benzema, who became the first player to miss two penalties in a LaLiga game since Raul Tamudo against Betis in April 2006.

Budimir efforts in vain

Budimir has scored in each of his last five LaLiga games (five goals in total) as he became only the second Osasuna player to score in five successive top-flight games in the 21st century after Richard Morales in 2004. However, the striker's efforts ultimately proved in vain against the league leaders.

What's next?

Madrid visit Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final clash on Tuesday, before hosting Espanyol on Saturday – the day before Osasuna are away at Elche.

Gareth Bale will miss Real Madrid's trip to Osasuna on Wednesday in LaLiga, the club have announced.

The 32-year-old has played just 290 minutes of football for Madrid in all competitions this season, scoring once in seven appearances, four of which have been starts.

In a brief statement on the club's website, the league leaders referred to Bale's absence as "a last-minute withdrawal from the squad".

A one-sentence announcement, declining to give a reason, then read: "He's not available for tonight's match against Osasuna."

The Wales winger will leave the Santiago Bernabeu when his contract expires in June, with national team manager Rob Page recently saying Bale would "definitely" continue his club career next season, as he eyes a potential World Cup appearance in Qatar.

Having opened up a 15-point lead over Barcelona at the top of LaLiga, Carlo Ancelotti's side would take another huge step towards the club's 35th league title by beating Osasuna, against whom they are unbeaten in 13 league matches.

Carlo Ancelotti does not feel like a champion yet despite Barcelona's shock defeat to Cadiz putting Real Madrid on the brink of reclaiming LaLiga.

Madrid visit Osasuna on Wednesday with the chance to go 18 points clear at the summit.

They will win LaLiga as soon as Sunday should they beat Osasuna, Atletico Madrid fail to defeat Granada and Barca fail to win their next two games against Real Sociedad and Rayo Vallecano.

Even if Atletico and Barca continue to pick up results, Madrid have a healthy advantage to protect over the final weeks of the season and still have the opportunity to win the title at Atleti next month.

But Ancelotti's focus remains only on the task at hand, with Madrid also having to juggle a two-legged Champions League semi-final with Manchester City along with their LaLiga commitments.

Ancelotti told a pre-match media conference: "I have too much experience to have this feeling [of being a champion]. 

"We are very close, but it is not over. We have a great opportunity tomorrow. Tomorrow is a great opportunity to get closer.

"Our calculation is simple. Three points against Osasuna and then three against Espanyol. If we need more, three against Atletico.

"I don't need to be a mathematician, I like history better."

Karim Benzema will play against Osasuna, though Luka Modric is set to be rested.

Casemiro will miss the Osasuna game after withdrawing from the squad with what Ancelotti labelled a "small problem".

The Brazil midfielder is expected to return for the first leg against City next Tuesday at the Etihad Stadium.

Barcelona boss Xavi says he had no doubts that Ferran Torres would start shining for Barcelona after the Spain international scored a brace in Sunday's 4-0 win over Osasuna.

The 22-year-old had scored just one goal in six LaLiga appearances following his move from Manchester City, but he found the back of the net twice in a routine win that lifted the Blaugrana up to third in the table.

His first came from the penalty spot after Gavi had been fouled in the area and he added a second before the midway point with a cool finish after being picked out by the impressive Ousmane Dembele.

That brace – his first in 78 appearances in LaLiga – came from just four shots, with the 22-year-old having scored just once from his previous 16 attempts in the Spanish top flight.  

Xavi was delighted with his contribution and insisted he had no doubts Torres would soon click into gear at the Camp Nou.

"With Ferran I already said that the goals would come; it was a matter of time," he told reporters. "Besides, all the work and what he gives us up front. 

"I would say that he has been, at times, unlucky in front of goal, but fantastic in the rest. He is one of the best in the team going into space."

Barca added gloss to a 12th win in their last 14 home LaLiga games against Osasuna through goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Riqui Puig.

Aubameyang’s goal was also teed up by Dembele, who has now provided five assists in his last four LaLiga games – the joint most in the competition alongside Athletic Bilbao's Alex Berenguer and the same amount he managed in his previous 45 league games. 

"Dembele is a player who is able to make the difference through scoring, assisting and running into the penalty area. Today he played a very good game," he added.

"If you perform, you make the fans happy. People see that they give their lives for Barca and you can't fool people. You can't fool Camp Nou."

The result means third-placed Barca are 12 points behind leaders Real Madrid, who they face in El Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu next Sunday.

Asked if there is any possibility of Barca making a late title charge, Xavi responded: "LaLiga is very difficult, even with winning at the Bernabeu. They have only lost two games and we would need them to lose three or four. We cannot be too optimistic."

Barcelona moved up to third in LaLiga after Ferran Torres' brace and goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Riqui Puig sealed a routine 4-0 win over Osasuna at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Torres set Xavi's men on their way to a fourth consecutive top-flight win with a brace before the midway point of the first half, the first of which came from the penalty spot.

Aubameyang added a third before half-time and Puig wrapped up the scoring 15 minutes from full-time with a close-range finish. 

The Blaugrana, who are 12 points adrift of leaders Real Madrid, are level on points with fourth-placed Atletico Madrid, but have a game in hand on Diego Simeone's side.

Barca went ahead in the 14th minute, Torres stroking home from the penalty spot after Gavi had been brought down in the area by Nacho Vidal.

Torres scored his second seven minutes later, the Spain international coolly sliding the ball through the legs of Sergio Herrera after latching onto Ousmane Dembele's superb pass.

Dembele was again the provider for Barca's third in the 27th minute, with Aubameyang getting in front of his marker to prod home the France international's cross from close range.

Dembele and Aubameyang both went close to adding a fourth as Barca picked up where they left off at the start of the second period, while Gerard Pique saw an effort ruled out for offside. 

Herrera denied the excellent Dembele in the 70th minute, before Puig scored his first goal of the season two minutes after replacing Pedri, rounding Herrera and slotting in after the Osasuna goalkeeper had kept out his initial effort.

 

What does it mean? Supreme first-half display proves enough

Barca drew a blank in their Europa League clash against Galatasaray on Thursday despite dominating the game, but there was no such profligacy on show here.

They had an expected goals ratio of 2.3 in the first half – their highest value in the opening 45 minutes across all competitions this season – as they secured a 12th win in 14 home league games against Osasuna with the minimum of fuss. 

Torres finding his feet

Torres was electric in the first half, plundering his first LaLiga brace in what was his 78th appearance in the competition. That double came from just four shots, with the former Manchester City man having scored only once from his previous 16 attempts in the Spanish top flight.  

Dembele the provider

He did not get on the scoresheet, yet Dembele was central to Barca's success. The 24-year-old has now provided five assists in his last four LaLiga games – the joint most in the competition alongside Athletic Bilbao's Alex Berenguer and the same amount he managed in his previous 45 league games. 

What's next?

Barca travel to Galatasaray for the second leg of their last-16 tie on Thursday before El Clasico against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu three days later. Osasuna are next in action on Saturday when they host Levante in LaLiga.

Xavi is not concerned by Barcelona's toothless display in a goalless draw with Galatasaray as they prepare to face Osasuna in LaLiga on Sunday.

The Blaugrana were unable to find a way past Inaki Pena, who produced an inspired performance against his parent club in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16 at Camp Nou on Thursday.

Barca had 16 shots, hitting the target four times as they fired a blank to bring an end to a four-match winning run.

The Catalan giants are now unbeaten in nine matches, though, and head coach Xavi is confident his fourth-placed side can fire at home to Osasuna

He said during a press conference on Saturday: "We were very good in Elche [in a 2-1 win last weekend] and they played with a low block.

"We have different solutions but you have to interpret them well in the game. We have trained [well] these days, we have made videos and we try to find solutions.

"We faced a rival who was very good, an extraordinary goalkeeper. I don't see it as a problem."

Xavi says Barca must be relentless as they attempt to maintain their unbeaten run.

"We have to maintain the intensity, they can't beat us in intensity. We can't lower it," he added.

"Being more effective changes the game. The rival has to open up and leave spaces. Getting ahead is an important advantage."

Xavi expects more quality from Barcelona going forward.

"We needed to attack better. We've analysed it. We have to be self-critical. We were better in the second half," he said.

"I don't think beyond it. My mind is not on Thursday's game against Galatasaray. Analysing Osasuna, who do things very well, I focus on tomorrow's game."

Atletico Madrid moved into LaLiga's top four with a 3-0 win at Osasuna, as Joao Felix registered a goal and an assist on his 100th appearance for the club.

Joao Felix fired Atletico into an early lead just three minutes into his landmark outing before Luis Suarez scored a fantastic long-range lob after 60 minutes to make the points safe, with Angel Correa adding a late third.

Diego Simeone's team produced a disciplined defensive performance to bounce back from their 1-0 loss to Levante, as the capital club moved three points clear of Villarreal and Barcelona in the race for Champions League football, albeit having played two games more than the latter.

Simeone's men took the lead almost immediately, Joao Felix volleying into the roof of the net after Sergio Herrera spilled an early corner and Osasuna's calls for a foul by Suarez were waved away after a VAR check.

Lucas Torro came close to levelling for the hosts on 37 minutes, heading against the post with Jan Oblak beaten, before Nacho Vidal forced the Atleti shot-stopper into a good save from long range.

Felix's goal was Atletico's only shot of a scrappy first-half, as they looked for an eighth consecutive league win over the side from Pamplona. 

With Osasuna pushing for a leveller against a resolute visiting defence, Suarez netted an astonishing second on the hour mark, lobbing Herrera from all of 40 yards as the visitors broke from an Osasuna corner.

Oblak was never seriously tested in the closing stages, which saw Atletico apply gloss to the scoreline in injury time when substitute Correa delicately lifted the ball beyond Herrera after latching onto Koke's throughball.

Diego Simeone insisted he "fully believes" Atletico Madrid can secure Champions League qualification as he seeks solutions following disappointment against Levante.

The reigning LaLiga champions are 15 points off local rivals and leaders Real Madrid after 24 games, sitting fifth in the league and level on points with fourth-placed Barcelona, who have played a game fewer.

Simeone's side suffered another setback in their last outing, falling to a 1-0 defeat against bottom side Levante, as their top-four push for Champions League football next season was dented again.

However, Atletico have won their past seven top-flight meetings with their next opponents Osasuna and Simeone believes his side can escape their underwhelming run of form on Saturday.

"It's normal after the painful defeat, but with a desire to have a new opportunity and to focus on the game against Osasuna, who play really well and are going through a good moment," Simeone told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference when asked about the squad's morale.

"I have the motivation to live on every day. I'm at a great club, where I want to be, and I look at the future trying to solve the present.

"There isn't one circumstance [behind our problems], but several, and I believe blindly in the players that I have. I'm sure they'll pull this off.

"We're now facing a 14-game league in which there will be seven teams who will have the chance to get into the Champions League, and being all together, looking for ways out of difficult moments like we had in the pandemic, when we had one point more than we do today, [and] we were sixth and finished third.

"We'll have to make a great effort for this, but we're focusing on the present."

Atletico have won on each of their past three LaLiga visits to El Sadar and are looking for four consecutive top-flight wins at Osasuna in the competition for the first time.

However, Simeone's team have failed to win in any of their most recent five away league games, conceding at least twice in each of those matches (12 in total). 

But Simeone insisted he has the backing of Atletico chiefs Miguel Angel Gil Marin and Andrea Berta after meeting with the pair to discuss the club's problems.

"We get together no more than one or two days a month, and we talk about the good or bad situations," Simeone added on his discussions with Atleti’s executives. 

"It's a bad moment, but we have to take things forward, being together."

Gerard Pique claimed the future will be bright for Barcelona given the club's emerging youngsters but labelled the current situation as "critical".

Barcelona were held to a 2-2 draw at Osasuna on Sunday, with Chimy Avila's deflected late strike salvaging a point for Jagoba Arrasate's side to leave Xavi's new team without a win in three games across all competitions.

The result meant the Blaugrana sat 15 points behind LaLiga leaders Real Madrid, even before Los Blancos' clash with city rivals Atletico Madrid later on Sunday.

However, it is not all bad news, given Ez Abde and Nico Gonzalez scored their first goals for the club, the first time in the 21st century that Barcelona have had two teenage goalscorers in a top-flight game.

Pique pinpointed the academy players as a key reason for hope in the future, but the centre-back appreciates the present is just as important for the struggling Catalan club.

"A new era begins in which we have to start adding three [points] at a time in the league," Pique told Movistar Plus.

"It is the priority, we have to try not to increase the distance with those above. This result is a very great pity.

"The objective is to think about the next game, only in the short term. We know that in the long run, these young people are going to be very good for the club.

"We have to get results, win and win again. It is really urgent, we are in a critical situation."

Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League in midweek following defeat at Bayern Munich, but they looked like responding well against Osasuna, who have not defeated the Blaugrana in a home league game since February 2012.

But the defensive frailties of the Barcelona defence were evident once more when David Garcia headed home and then again when Avila struck from the edge of the area with four minutes remaining.

Indeed, Barca – alongside five other teams – have kept a league-low three clean sheets this term, but Pique feels confident results will come if his side keep putting in the hard work.

"I think that little by little we are going to give more," he said. "The team today have competed. Obviously, we can play better. But in attitude and work, nothing can be said to us. The games and results will come.

"It is a matter of time, but we don't have it. It is urgent to start winning. Now every game is a final."

Chimy Avila's late strike salvaged a 2-2 draw for Osasuna after teenagers Ez Abde and Nico Gonzalez scored their first Barcelona goals in an entertaining LaLiga clash.

Barca crashed out of the Champions League with a 3-0 defeat at Bayern Munich on Wednesday, but they looked set to respond with a battling victory at Estadio El Sadar.

Nico put Xavi's side in front on Sunday, only for David Garcia to equalise a couple of minutes later.

Ez Abde appeared to have won it with a strike early in the second half, but Avila struck in the 86th minute to rescue the home side.

Diego Simeone believes the period of Barcelona and Real Madrid dominating LaLiga finished with the ends of their respective 'MSN' and 'BBC' eras.

Atletico Madrid battled to a slender 1-0 win at home to Osasuna on Saturday, with Felipe getting the decisive goal in the 87th minute.

The result moved them back to within a point of Real Madrid, though they have a game in hand, while Sevilla and Real Sociedad are just one point better off at the summit.

Osasuna pushed Atletico all the way and Simeone felt this was prime evidence of LaLiga's competitiveness, convinced the day's of the 'big two' are over.

"It demanded a lot from us because LaLiga is very competitive," Simeone told reporters. "There isn't much difference [in quality between all teams].

"The Barca of the MSN era and the Madrid of the BBC era have passed. Now LaLiga is very competitive for everyone."

For a while it looked as though Atletico were going to be frustrated by Osasuna, who almost clung on for a point.

Stealing the win at the end felt good for Mario Hermoso, who believed getting a positive result ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Milan, as Atletico could have their knockout-phase hopes ended if they lose.

"These victories taste different," the defender added. "When you go on and on, insisting on what you believe in, on what the coach wants, on what we trust and work on during the week, sooner or later the time ends.

"What better way than to do it with that goal at that moment with the push of the fans and especially ahead of the 'final' that we have on Wednesday."

Atletico Madrid left it late to take advantage of a slip-up by LaLiga title rivals Sevilla as Felipe's header secured a 1-0 win over Osasuna.

Sevilla went top of LaLiga earlier in the day with a 2-2 draw against Alaves, an injury-time equaliser sending them to the summit.

But they and Real Sociedad are now just two points above Atletico, who claimed victory from their one of only two efforts on target at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Felipe rose to meet Yannick Carrasco's near-post corner and turn it home, providing a dramatic finish to what had otherwise been a dour encounter on Saturday.

 

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti says getting sacked is part of the job after his counterpart Ronald Koeman was dismissed by Barcelona on Wednesday.

Koeman was axed by the Blaugrana following their dismal start to the new season, capped by Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano, leaving them ninth in LaLiga.

Intense speculation and pressure had mounted about the Dutchman's future for the past month and former Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain boss Ancelotti weighed in.

"I've been sacked several times and I'm still here, alive and happy," Ancelotti told reporters after Madrid's 0-0 home draw with Osasuna.

"Getting sacked is part of the job and you have to give it everything you've got until the day you're sacked.

"You have to look forward while keeping a clear conscience. He’s giving everything he has to give."

Madrid's draw with Osasuna moved them into top spot in LaLiga but left them with only four points collected from their past four league games.

Ancelotti's side are also winless from their past three home games, including a 2-1 home defeat to Sheriff in the Champions League.

The stalemate with Osasuna follows a goalless draw with Villarreal in LaLiga, meaning Madrid have recorded back-to-back 0-0 draws in home games in the league for the fourth time, and first since November 1996 under Fabio Capello.

"Of the three games, we deserved to win two of them," Ancelotti said. "We have to understand that they are difficult games for this squad, because in this game we lacked presence in the box.

"But do you want the truth? You can call me crazy, but I liked the performance. Especially in the second half. My players have given everything and we have to keep going."

Ancelotti bemoaned a first-half incident where Los Blancos were denied a penalty after Vinicius Junior was stamped inside the box by Osasuna's Lucas Torro. The Madrid boss also felt aggrieved at a lack of stoppage time in the second half.

"The penalty is a complicated issue. All I saw, was Vinicius asking the referee to take a look at VAR and he didn't get why," Ancelotti said.

"Then I understood why, he stamps on him and I think it's a penalty. Why VAR did not intervene I don't know.

"I told the referee I felt he hadn't added enough injury time given how the game had gone. I asked him for an explanation but it wasn't very convincing."

Vinicius Junior was busy throughout, attempting 71 passes (64 completed), which was his highest in a single game for Madrid in all competitions.

Real Madrid missed the chance to move two points clear at the top of LaLiga as they were held to a 0-0 home draw by a resolute Osasuna.

Madrid turned in a fine performance to defeat Barcelona at Camp Nou last time out, but Carlo Ancelotti's side lacked any spark on Wednesday.

It is the third successive home game that Madrid have failed to win in all competitions, and Los Blancos were fortunate Jon Moncayola did not make matters worse when he struck the post early in the second half.

With Sevilla only able to draw at Mallorca, and Atletico Madrid and Sevilla not in action until Thursday, Madrid – who went closest to scoring when Karim Benzema hit the woodwork – must consider it as an opportunity missed to open up a slight gap on their title rivals.

The little action that did occur happened mostly after the break, with Eduardo Camavinga's effort into the side-netting the highlight of a drab first half.

Madrid out-thought Barca in Sunday's Clasico victory, but the slack nature of their performance should have been punished in the 50th minute.

Toni Kroos' tame cross resulted in Osasuna breaking at pace, with Chimy Avila sliding it across for Moncayola, who could only hit the upright.

Madrid were hardly sparked into life by that chance, with the pedestrian pace continuing until Benzema engineered space for a shot that clipped off the crossbar.

Unusually profligate against Barca, Benzema sent another presentable opportunity off target soon after, with Casemiro's effort from in his own half and a wayward Marcelo chip the closest Madrid came to scoring from then on as their recent issues at Santiago Bernabeu continued.

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