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Bale, Benzema injuries deepen Real Madrid’s struggles

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MADRID (AP) Real Madrid’s injuries keep mounting after Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema had to be substituted on Saturday in the 1-0 loss at Alaves.

Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui says both forwards needed to leave the match because of unspecified injuries.

Benzema did not start the second half, while Bale was replaced late after appearing to ask to be substituted.

Lopetegui says “the injuries to Karim and Gareth greatly limited what we could do.”

Madrid was already without injured backs Marcelo and Dani Carvajal, while Francisco “Isco” Alarcon is unavailable while he recovers from surgery for appendicitis.

The loss was Madrid’s fourth match in a row without scoring a goal.

After an international break, Madrid’s next game is at home against Levante on Oct. 20. It then hosts Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League before visiting Barcelona on Oct. 28.

La Liga: One half of Madrid is happy, the other is not

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Serie A: Cristiano Ronaldo still scoreless, but Juventus still perfect ]

Real Madrid 4-1 Leganes

Julen Lopetegui’s Real Madrid improved to a perfect 3-for-3 record on the season with a mostly comfortable victory over Leganes at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Gareth Bale scored his third goal in as many games to put Los Blancos ahead after just 17 minutes before Guido Carillo converted from the penalty spot to pull the visitors back to level terms in the 24th. The score would remain 1-1 until halftime, but not much longer than that.

Karim Benzema bagged a 13-minute brace — heading home the first in the 48th minute, and finishing off a clever one-two with Luka Modric in the 61st — that would prove to be the difference on the day. Sergio Ramos added the fourth, from the penalty spot, in the 66th minute.

Video review was required to confirm Benzema’s first goal, and while it’s a bit of a buzzkill with regard to post-goal celebrations, Ramos feels it’s a necessary sacrifice for the good of the game.

“It is true that the goal celebration is somewhat muted (after the wait), but I have always said that I am in favor of , because it was a goal that had been disallowed,” he said after the game. “I am sure that one day it will be our turn to be on the other end of things, but it is positive.”

Celta Vigo 2-0 Atletico Madrid

Saturday wasn’t so joyous for the other half of Madrid, as 10-man Atleti suffered a 2-0 defeat away to Celta. The game was well and truly in hand before Stefan Savic’s 70th-minute red card, though, as Maxi Gomez and Iago Aspas hit Los Rojiblancos for a goal each during the first seven minutes of the second half.

Atleti boss Diego Simeone doesn’t see the result as a reason to panic, but more of a wake-up call so early in the season. He also shoulders the blame for his side’s poor start to the second half.

“It is a good wake-up call. Above all for me,” he said after the game. “I am responsible for our start to the second half because the second half depends a lot on what the manager says at halftime.”

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Levante vs. Valencia — 6 a.m. ET
Alaves vs. Espanyol — 10:15 a.m. ET
Barcelona vs. Huesca — 12:30 p.m. ET
Real Betis vs. Sevilla — 2:45 p.m. ET

Atleti wins UEFA Super Cup’s Madrid Derby

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Diego Costa scored twice in regulation and Saul Niguez notched a beautiful goal in extra time as Atletico Madrid beat Real Madrid 4-2 on Wednesday in the UEFA Super Cup.

Koke added a 103rd minute marker in Tallinn, Estonia, to round out the scoring for Atleti, which claimed its third Super Cup since 2010.

Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos scored for Real, which had won the last two Super Cups. The match pits the winners of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League.

[ MORE: Premier League Club Power Rankings, Week 1 ]

It took less than a minute for Atleti to take the lead, with Costa winning a 50/50 over Sergio Ramos, then rounding Raphael Varane before blasting past Keylor Navas high and tight. Not a bad trio to count amongst your victims.

Real equalized when Gareth Bale sent a sensational back post cross to Karim Benzema, whose angled-back header was equally nice.

The 62nd minute saw Real get its first chance at the lead, with Juanfran‘s flailing arm striking a cross in he Atleti box. Ramos converted his stuttered run-up to make it 2-1.

Costa leveled the score after a glittering Juanfran move through the 18 and cutback to the top of the six.

Saul’s extra time marker was sensational, catching an 18-yard side volley with fury. The ball was always tailing away from the diving Navas, and set-up by Thomas Partey.

Alexis leads Man United past Real Madrid; Spurs, Roma win

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The International Champions Cup brought some power matches to the preseason pitch on Wednesday, and two of the three brought some real entertainment.

[ MORE: Modric interested in Inter ]

Manchester United 2-1 Real Madrid

Alexis Sanchez’s wonder assist joined his opening goal to make him the easy Man of the Match as Jose Mourinho’s men emerged victorious from Miami Gardens.

Karim Benzema scored for Real Madrid, but the reigning UEFA Champions League victors couldn’t find a second against United’s defense.

Now back to Alexis’ assist. Consider the athleticism involved in nodding this Juan Mata cross into the path of Ander Herrera. Insane.


Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 AC Milan

Georges-Kevin N’Koudou’s early second half hammer in Minneapolis was enough to let Spurs leave the ICC with two wins and a loss in penalties.


Barcelona 2-4 AS Roma

Rafinha gave Barcelona a 1-0 lead before Justin Kluivert fed Stephan El Shaarawy to leave it level at the break in Arlington.

New winger Malcom restored Barca’s lead from an assist courtesy former Montreal Impact man Ballou Tabla, but that was about all she wrote for the Blaugranas. Alessandro Florenzi, Bryan Cristante, and Diego Perotti scored thrice in eight minutes to hand Barca its first loss of the preseason.

Rafinha’s goal was pretty nice, though.

Player ratings, UCL final: Bale the hero, Karius the zero

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Real Madrid were crowned champions of Europe (again, for the third straight season) on Saturday, spearheaded by an all-time great goal scored by Gareth Bale and an all-time shocking performance from Loris Karius.

[ MORE: Benzema’s opener | Mane’s equalizer | Bale’s winner ]

Liverpool

GK – Loris Karius – 0/10: A goalkeeper has never committed a worse, more egregious, more senseless error in the history of soccer. Just watch it (unless you’re a Liverpool fan). Then he did this, in the same game. He can’t go back to Liverpool.

RB – Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6/10

CB – Dejan Lovren – 6.5/10

CB – Virgil Van Dijk – 6.5/10

LB – Andrew Robertson – 6.5/10: Robertson’s heroic sliding block to snuff out Cristiano Ronaldo’s breakaway in the 75th minute kept Liverpool’s hopes and dreams alive.

CM – Jordan Henderson – 7/10

CM – James Milner (83′) – 6/10

CM – Georginio Wijnaldum – 6/10

RW – Mohamed Salah (31′) – 5/10: Injured by a highly questionable “challenge” from Sergio Ramos (WATCH HERE) inside the opening half-hour, the Premier League’s Golden Boot winner was unable to find his footing (through little fault of his own) during a cagey opening 25 minutes.

CF – Roberto Firmino – 5.5/10: A brilliant season for the Brazilian ends with one of his least impactful, quietest outings of the campaign. To Madrid’s credit, they put him on an island up top and denied any and all service to the frontman.

LW – Sadio Mane – 7/10: Scored Liverpool’s only goal (WATCH HERE), but was rendered largely ineffective following Salah’s departure, as Madrid were able to shift their defensive focus to the other side of the field.

Sub – Adam Lallana (31′) – 5.5/10

Sub – Emre Can (83′) – N/A

[ MORE: Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool — Los Blancos make it three straight ]

Real Madrid

GK – Keylor Navas – 7.5/10: Navas made a pair of truly world-class saves in the first half to keep the game scoreless, at a time when the Reds were beginning to find their way and build up a head of steam.

RB – Dani Carvajal (37′) – 5/10

CB – Raphael Varane – 8/10: Kept Firmino in his hip pocket all game long.

CB – Sergio Ramos – 6/10: Responsible for the injury to Salah (no matter your feelings his about intent), but Ramos managed to avoid getting sent off over 90 minutes, which is a big win for him.

LB – Marcelo – 6.5/10:

CDM – Casemiro – 6.5/10

CM – Luka Modric – 7/10: Bossed the midfield and marshaled (par for the course) with four tackles and completed 94 percent of his 72 passes attempted. Madrid’s metronome, oftentimes their most important players lying in the shadows.

CM – Toni Kroos – 6/10

CAM – Isco – 7.5/10 (61′): Far and away Madrid’s best player for the entirety of the first half, and was inches from putting Los Blancos ahead in the 48th minute, when he lifted the ball over Karius and was denied by the crossbar.

FW – Karim Benzema (89′) – 7/10: Scored the game’s opening goal, could have scored a second goal late in the second half if not for a great save by Karius, and continues to (somehow) remain underrated when he so consistently shows up in the big games.

FW – Cristiano Ronaldo – 6/10: Little to no impact from minute 1 to 90. All that was missing was an 89th-minute goal to make it 4-1 and a wild shirt-off celebration like he’d scored the winner.

Sub – Nacho (37′) – 6/10

Sub – Gareth Bale (61′) – 10/10: When you score a goal like this, you got a 10/10 every time, no matter anything else you did while on the field (he scored again in the 83rd minute).

Sub – Marco Asensio (89′) – N/A