Karim Benzema converted two penalties and missed another one as Real Madrid earned a nervy 2-1 win at Celta Vigo to put the LaLiga leaders one step closer to the title.
Real extended their lead atop the standings to 12 points over second-placed Sevilla and 15 clear of Barcelona ahead of their closest rivals’ meeting on Sunday.
Celta were furious with referee Pablo Gonzalez, who awarded three penalties against them and disallowed an effort late in the first half after VAR intervention when Thiago Gallardo`s header almost crossed the line.
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The referee ruled that Iago Aspas, who was offside, got in the way of Real defender David Alaba and prevented him from clearing the ball.
“It looks like the ref wanted a Benzema hat-trick. The ref could just have taken the ball and kicked the penalties himself,” Aspas told reporters.
Benzema scored the first from the spot after 20 minutes after Nolito tripped Eder Militao, but Nolito equalised from close range following a counter-attack soon after halftime.
Benzema had two opportunities to win the game for Real Madrid from the penalty spot, after Jeison Murillo fouled Rodrygo and Kevin Vazquez tripped Ferland Mendy.
Goalkeeper Matias Dituro saved his first effort but five minutes later the French striker sent a precise low spot-kick just inside post.
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“I don’t know if we deserve to win today but winning here is important because playing here is always tough,” Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said.
The Belgian made a magnificent one-handed stop from an Aspas free kick that was destined for the top corner.
“The penalties were fair, no question. There is nothing more to add,” Courtois said. “They were clear fouls. Celta moved the ball well, they are intense and in the first half we didn’t press well. Definitely today’s are three very important points.”