Real Madrid crushed Levante 6-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday night, with Vinicius Junior scoring a hat trick and Karim Benzema continuing his explosive goalscoring record in LaLiga this season.
As a result, Levante, who has 29 points from 36 games, have been relegated to Spain’s second level since they cannot mathematically escape the bottom three.
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Despite a Champions League final against Liverpool on May 28, Carlo Ancelotti named a nearly first-choice XI that included Benzema and Vinicius, while Toni Kroos and Casemiro sat on the bench.
Ferland Mendy beat Levante keeper Daniel Cardenas at his near post before Benzema headed home a Vinicius cross to guarantee the game was little more than a formality for the 2021-22 LaLiga champions.
“It’s my first hat trick,” Vinicius remarked following the game. “After such a successful season with my teammates, they all contribute significantly to my success. I’m quite thrilled with my first hat trick and game today since the boss left me on for additional time to earn the hat trick.
“[Ancelotti] asked if I wanted to come off, but I replied I wanted to remain a little longer since I had the opportunity to score my first hat trick, and I’m extremely thrilled.”
Benzema’s goal was his 323rd for the club, matching him for second in club history with Madrid icon Raul, although he is still a long way off Cristiano Ronaldo’s 450 for Los Blancos. It was also his 27th hit of the season, as he ran away with his first Pichichi trophy, becoming the first player other than Lionel Messi to win the league’s top scorer honor since 2015-16.
“The relationship between Karim and I has been excellent all season,” Vinicius remarked of his teammate. “I hope it remains that way until Karim retires, which will certainly be in Madrid. He’s having a fantastic season, and let’s hope he wins the Ballon d’Or at its end.
“Karim scored many goals, and let’s hope he can do even more at this club he adores.”
Luka Modric picked up his second and third assists of the night, setting up Rodrygo for the easiest tap-ins and putting in Vinicius for a clean finish to give Madrid a 4-0 lead at halftime.
Vinicius scored Madrid’s fifth goal and his second of the night, scoring directly in front of the net after Benzema’s brilliant footwork left Cardenas down on the ground as he lay the ball off for his teammate.
Soon after, the Brazil international scored his hat trick, collecting a through ball from Luka Jovic, running into the area, and firing home at the near post to complete Real’s thrashing.
‘[Vinicius and Karim] have done well, and they did so again tonight, combining well as they have all season,’ says the coach. “According to Ancelotti. “It is the team’s merit to put them in the greatest position to demonstrate all of their quality. And time has allowed them to understand one other better.”
After the win, Madrid now has 84 points for the season.
Ancelotti commented on his opponents’ relegation: “It’s a terrible day for Levante, and I’d like to express my condolences. Let’s hope they return soon. We performed well in terms of the game, we’re focused, and we’re on pace for the final.
“It’s a sport. It’s football. Doing your best is the finest approach to appreciate an opponent. That’s exactly what we did. [Levante manager] Alessio [Lisci] has had a difficult task, and they have given their all.”
Madrid faces Cadiz in their last encounter on Sunday, and Ancelotti has stated that the lineup will be different from the one that faced Levante.
“The guys who did not play today will play against Cadiz on Sunday,” Ancelotti stated. “[Eder] Militao, Kroos, I believe we will see the return of [Dani] Ceballos and [Marco] Asensio, as well as [Eden] Hazard.”