'Complete player' Karim Benzema overtakes Real Madrid legend Raul with brace against Elche

Real coach Ancelotti hails 'very complete player' as Madrid cut Barca's lead at the top of La Liga back to eight points

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Karim Benzema converted two first-half penalties in Real Madrid's 4-0 win over basement side Elche on Wednesday to surpass club legend Raul as the team’s second-highest scorer in the Spanish league with 230 goals.

Marco Asensio and Luka Modric were also on target as Real closed the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona to eight points and left Elche 12 points from safety.

French striker Benzema, 35, entered the match level with Raul on 228 league goals – second only to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 311.

Real coach Carlo Ancelotti paid homage to his star player, describing Benzema as "much more than just a striker. He is a very complete player. He has a fantastic career and hopefully he will keep adding to it."

Real did not play at the weekend because of their involvement in the Club World Cup in Morocco, which they presented to supporters at the Bernabeu before kick off.

It was Madrid's second trophy of the season, after the European Super Cup, but if they are to add La Liga to their haul they have a big job on their hands.

"Here nothing is impossible," Eduardo Camavinga told DAZN, pledging to fight for the title until the end of the season.

"We saw it last season in the Champions League and we will play until the end."

Madrid had won only one of their past three league matches and were coming off a loss at Mallorca before traveling to Morocco, where they beat Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal 5-3 in the final to win a fifth Club World Cup title.

“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.”

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema holds the  Club World Cup trophy prior to kick off. AP Photo

Madrid were without suspended winger Vinicius Junior while Eder Militao returned after injury, forcing Antonio Rudiger to drop to the bench.

Bottom-of-the-table visitors Elche, with only one win all season, were ideal opponents for Madrid to face to resume their league campaign against.

Pablo Machin's side offered the hosts a guard of honour before the game and it only got more comfortable for Los Blancos from there.

Asensio put the Spanish champions ahead after eight minutes with a fine individual goal, driving into the area and stroking into the bottom corner.

Benzema had an effort saved by Edgar Badia and then nodded a good chance off target, but he didn't have to wait long.

The French forward's header was handled by Enzo Roco in the area after half-an-hour and Benzema sent Badia the wrong way from the spot.

Real Madrid's Luka Modric scores his side's fourth goal. AP Photo

Rodrygo earned Madrid a second penalty before half time when he beat Diego Gonzalez and was clumsily felled.

Having fired his first into the top right corner, this time Benzema chose the top left and although Badia went that way he could not claw it out.

Benzema's brace took him to 11 league goals for the season, three short of leader Robert Lewandowski at Barcelona.

Modric smashed home Madrid's fourth goal on 80 minutes, driving into the top left corner from just inside the box to round off the rout.

"We had a good game, with a lot of control and opened the scoring early through Asensio," Ancelotti told DAZN.

"It was a good game at an important moment in the season."

Updated: February 16, 2023, 4:37 AM