June 19 (UPI) -- Karim Benzema scored two second-half goals to lead Real Madrid to a 3-0 win against Valencia in their first game in more than three months due to a coronavirus pandemic suspension.
Benzema scored in the 61st and 86th minutes on the La Liga affair Thursday at Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium in Madrid. Marco Asensio had Madrid's second score in the 74th minute. Madrid is now two points behind first-place Barcelona in the La Liga standings.
"It wasn't an easy game due to the opposition who made it hard, but we won and didn't concede," Benzema told reporters. "It's very important because Valencia are a very good team."
Valencia's Rodrigo had a goal taken away in the 21st minute after an offside call. The Spanish squads went into halftime in a scoreless tie.
Madrid broke the deadlock when Valencia turned the ball over at midfield in the 60th minute. Eden Hazard received the loose ball and raced up the left side of the field. Hazard then did a give-and-go with Luka Modric before he received a pass back while in the box. Hazard then tapped the ball to his right to Benzema, who ripped a shot past Valencia goalie Jasper Cillessen.
Madrid took a two-score lead about 13 minutes later. Left back Ferland Mendy tracked down a deflected corner kick on the left side of the field during that sequence. Mendy then beat a defender into the box before he spotted Asensio about nine yards from the net. Asensio received the pass and smashed a one-touch shot into the net in the 74th minute.
Benzema showed off his sublime touch when he scored his second goal. The star striker raced down the field before Asensio spotted him in the middle of the box. Asensio lifted a pass to his teammate before Benzema stuck out his foot and tapped the ball over a defender. The ball then fell onto Benzema's left boot, which he used to volley a shot into the left side of the net.
"For the second goal, everything happened so fast," Benzema said. "It was a cross from Marco, I controlled it, I shot with the left foot and it went in. It looks easy, but you have to do it so fast."
Real Madrid battles Real Sociedad in their next game at 4 p.m. EDT Sunday in San Sebastian, Spain. Valencia's next match is against Osasuna at 1:30 p.m. EDT Sunday in Valencia.