Karim Benzema scored an extra-time winner to complete a dramatic comeback for Real Madrid against Sevilla to win 3-2 at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium on Sunday, edging closer to its 35th La Liga victory.
Sevilla achieved an early lead within the first 21 minutes of the match thanks to Ivan Rakitić, who scored a fortuitous free kick that slid through the Madrid barrier.
Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois failed to clear the ball barely four minutes later, letting Sevilla add to its tally with a strike from Erik Lamela – who pounced on the deflection to capitalize.
The host was 2-0 up going into the second half, but Madrid showed signs of breaking Sevilla’s momentum with a cleared attempt from star forward Benzema.
Los Blancos managed to finally break through in the 50th minute, when substitute Rodrygo got into the box and got on the end of a cross from defender Dani Carvajal.
Despite a questionable disallowed goal from Vinícius Jr. due to a handball ruling from the video assistant referee (VAR), Madrid leveled the match with a superb finish from Nacho Fernández in the 82nd minute in the box from a Carvajal pass.
The match seemed set for a draw when yet another moment of late-game Madrid magic occurred.
Benzema laid the ball off for Rodrygo in the 92nd minute, who drove along the right side of the box and passed it back to the Frenchman who controlled it, took two touches and smashed the ball through four Sevilla bodies to seal the comeback for Real.
It was Benzema’s 25th league goal this season and his 39th goal in 39 games on the year. It also marks the second late game-winner he has scored in the past week after his 96th-minute goal against Chelsea sent Madrid through to the Champions League semifinals on April 12.
Not without controversies
A series of VAR-related controversies added drama to an already supercharged game.
Alongside Vinícius Jr’s disallowed goal, the referee decided not to give the Merengues a penalty for what appeared to be a handball by Sevilla defender Diego Carlos. Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga also managed to dodge a clear second yellow card for a clumsy tackle on Anthony Martial.
Speaking on the handball incident, Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said, “I saw it live and it didn’t look like it touched his hand. I just don’t get it. It’s tough to assess these situations but … this move looked pretty clear to me.
“In the first half, we looked like a tired team and then the intensity in the second half was amazing. Sometimes in football, you can’t put your finger on these things. I also don’t understand the interpretation of Diego Carlos’ handball and Vinícius’ handball.”
‘These are things only Real Madrid are capable of doing’
“We head away with an incredible feeling, we always fight until the end. We knew this would be a very difficult game, but I’m thrilled to have got on in the second half, scored a goal and provide an assist to help my team,” Rodrygo said.
“The coach told us to play a bit more because we struggled in the first half and they were better than us. These are things only Real Madrid is capable of doing. I’m incredibly proud to be part of this team and to be involved in these comebacks.”
“It’s sad today, we had a great first half, but you can’t allow Real Madrid any way back into the game,” Sevilla midfielder Rakitić told reporters after the match. “If you don’t score your clear chances, then this can happen.”
There were a flurry of nail-biting league matches across the board on Sunday, as relegation-threatened Levante smashed Granada 4-1 at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes.
Meanwhile, Atlético Madrid won 2-1 against Espanyol with a late penalty from Yannick Carrasco in stoppage time, and Celta Vigo earned a decisive 2-0 victory against Athletic Bilbao.
Madrid faces Osasuna in its next league match on Wednesday, while Sevilla will play Levante on Thursday.