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SPORTS

Benzema leads Madrid to victory in opener



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AP
Madrid, Aug. 16 : Karim Benzema picked up from where he left off last season, playing a decisive role for Real Madrid once again.

Benzema led Madrid in its Spanish league opener on Saturday by scoring twice in the team’s comfortable 4-1 win at Alavés.

“Benzema is more than just a striker, he is a very complete player,” said Carlo Ancelotti, who began his second stint as Madrid coach.

“He is a much more complete player than when I coached him a few years ago.”

Madrid also got a goal from Nacho Fernández, one of the defenders stepping in to replace veteran captain Sergio Ramos, who left after 16 seasons because the club didn’t want to extend his contract.
“This has just started, there’s still a long way to go, but it was important to begin with a victory like this,” Fernández said.

Alfonso Espino scored seven minutes into second-half stoppage time to salvage Cádiz a 1-1 draw against Levante. The visitors had gone ahead with a goal from José Luis Morales in the 39th.
Promoted Mallorca took the lead against Real Betis with Brian Oliván scoring in the 25th but Juanmi Jiménez equalized for the visitors in the 59th.

Espanyol, which like Mallorca returned to the top flight after a one-year absence, drew 0-0 at Osasuna.

Liverpool, Chelsea cruise
Jurgen Klopp said Virgil van Dijk showed his class in a winning return from injury as Liverpool eased to a 3-0 win at Norwich to open their Premier League season on Saturday.

Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah were on target for Klopp’s men as they made a promising start to their quest to take back the Premier League title from Manchester City.

Van Dijk’s cruciate knee ligament injury derailed the Reds’ title defence last season and the Dutchman looked like his old self as he played the full 90 minutes on his return to action.

“You could see all his quality, all his class,” said Klopp. “It was hard for him to play the 90, he’ll need an ice bath for sure and he’ll have enough time to recover.”

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel told his side to hunt down Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool in the fight for the Premier League title after cruising past Crystal Palace 3-0 to open their campaign on Saturday.

Without record signing Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea were still rarely troubled as first-half goals from Marcos Alonso and Christian Pulisic gave them a commanding lead before Trevoh Chalobah rounded off a dream Premier League debut with his side’s third goal.

“I think we have to hunt the others from day one. This is what we want to do, this is our mentality and we are never shy to fight for the best outcome possible, but the reality is we are not the favourites right now,” said Tuchel, whose side finished fourth in the Premier League last season.

Fulham gave an early indication of their determination to return to the Premier League as they whipped hapless Huddersfield 5-1 despite being reduced to 10 men in the Championship on Saturday.
The Cottagers are top the table after two matches although nine other teams are also on four points.

An Ivan Cavaleiro double late on rounded off a highly satisfactory trip to Yorkshire where their opponents lacked any bite even after Harry Wilson was sent off with 18 minutes remaining.
Victory extended Fulham’s unbeaten run against Huddersfield in second-tier football to 17 matches dating back to April 1984.