European round-up: Karim Benzema keeps Real Madrid title hopes alive and denies Atletico Madrid

Karim Benzema scored a 13th La Liga goal of the season to keep Real Madrid in the title race against their city rivals

Image:Karim Benzema scored a 13th La Liga goal of the season to keep Real Madrid in the title race against their city rivals

Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema struck an 88th-minute equaliser to snatch a 1-1 draw at La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid and keep his side in the title race.

Luis Suarez had put the hosts in charge in the 15th minute, producing an ice-cool finish to beat Thibaut Courtois after a lung-bursting run forward from his own half by midfielder Marcos Llorente.

The Uruguayan was denied a second goal later in the half by former Atletico keeper Courtois and early in the second period, while the Belgian also thwarted his compatriot Yannick Carrasco from point-blank range.

Benzema, who returned after missing Real’s last three matches through injury, was the champions’ focal point in attack and spurned three chances to score before equalising late on, playing a one-two with Casemiro to tap into the net.

An Atletico victory would have taken Diego Simeone’s side eight points clear of their city rivals but Benzema’s leveller means they lead third-placed Real by five points while Barcelona, in second, are three points behind.

Celta Vigo emerged 4-3 winners from a ding-dong battle at Huesca, who twice fought back from a goal behind but were denied a point thanks to Fran Beltran’s 76th-minute winner, to take the visitors eighth and keep their hosts rock bottom of the table.

Serie A: Milan move two off leaders Inter

AC Milan boosted their title hopes by winning 2-0 at Verona despite being without a number of key players missing through injury.

Rade Krunic and Diogo Dalot scored for Milan, who moved to within three points of league leaders Inter Milan. Inter host Atalanta on Monday.

Second-placed Milan also remained four points above Juventus and six ahead of Roma, who beat Genoa 1-0 earlier on Sunday, in fourth.

After failing to win three of their last four games, Milan were desperate for a victory to put pressure on leaders Inter. But Milan were without a long list of injured players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Mandukic, Ante Rebic and Hakan Calhanoglu.

Krunic fired Milan in front in the 27th minute when he curled a magnificent free-kick into the top-right corner after he had been tripped by Verona defender Giangiacomo Magnani on the edge of the area.

Milan doubled the lead five minutes after the interval when Dalot finished a well-worked team move with an effort into the top-left corner.

Gianluca Mancini’s bullet header helped Roma move back into the top four and the Champions League spots.
Mancini scored the only goal of the match in the 24th minute as they moved a point above fifth-placed Atalanta.

Genoa remained seven points above the relegation zone after a second loss in three games. They had only lost one of the previous 10, since Davide Ballardini replaced Rolando Maran as coach.

Gianluca Mancini's goal saw Roma past Genoa
Image:Gianluca Mancini’s goal saw Roma past Genoa

Roma dominated and broke the deadlock when Mancini rose highest in the centre of the box to head a Lorenzo Pellegrini corner into the top corner.

Roma almost doubled their lead in the 67th minute, but Gonzalo Villar’s effort was deflected onto the post by Genoa midfielder Ivan Radovanovic.

The hosts did have the ball in the back of the net again shortly after. Pedro’s backheeled flick came off the left post and Borja Mayoral turned in the rebound but it was ruled out for a narrow offside.

Simy scored twice to help bottom club Crotone beat Torino 4-2 in a direct battle to avoid relegation.

The victory ended a seven-match losing streak for Crotone and was also Serse Cosmi’s first win, in his second match since replacing Giovanni Stroppa as coach.

Crotone inched to within five points of 18th-placed Torino and six points from safety. Fiorentina moved six points above the relegation zone after drawing 3-3 with 19th-place Parma.

Bundesliga: Cologne ease pressure with equaliser

Jonas Hector's goal earned Cologne a point against Werder Bremen
Image:Jonas Hector’s goal earned Cologne a point against Werder Bremen

Jonas Hector scored a valuable late equaliser to move Cologne three points clear of the relegation places with a 1-1 draw against Werder Bremen.

Cologne were the more active team in a first half of few chances, but Bremen improved after the break and Josh Sargent duly scored in the 66th minute when he was left free at the back post to head home Romano Schmid’s deep cross.

Leonardo Bittencourt and Milot Rashica missed further chances for the visitors before Cologne eventually found a leveller seven minutes from time.

Hector scored after Bremen goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka was unable to catch the ball under pressure from substitute Emmanuel Dennis, allowing the Cologne captain to score from close range. A VAR check confirmed the goal despite the visitors’ protests.

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