Sergio Ramos scored his 100th goal for club and country as Real Madrid took command of their Copa del Rey tie against Leganes with a 3-0 first-leg victory at the Bernabeu.
Madrid may be able to call themselves world champions after their triumph in Abu Dhabi last month but domestically they are having a tough time of it, currently fifth in LaLiga and 10 points behind rivals Barcelona.
The Copa del Rey is providing some respite, however, and Santiago Solari’s side are well positioned to progress from their last-16 tie after Wednesday night’s victory.
Ramos’ penalty set them on their way just before half time before second-half goals from Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior gave Madrid a three-goal cushion ahead of next week’s short trip to Estadio Municipal de Butarque.
As expected, Madrid boss Solari made seven changes from the 2-0 defeat to Real Sociedad. Captain Ramos kept his place along with the front three of Vinicius, Benzema and Vazquez.
Leganes could have led early on but Martin Braithwaite powered his header straight at Keylor Navas.
Madrid enjoyed plenty of possession but were frustrated by an organised defence and often found their attacks breaking down in the final third of the pitch.
A nice give-and-go between Alvaro Odriozola and Vazquez created a chance for Benzema but the French striker sent his header tamely at Ivan Cuellar.
That was the host’s best opening until just before the break. Odriozola had looked a danger for most of the first half and when his shirt was tugged inside the area he went down for a penalty.
Captain Ramos stepped up to take it and coolly rolled the ball to the goalkeeper’s right-hand side to record a landmark number of career goals with 44 minutes on the clock.
Leganes remained in the match but shot themselves in the foot after 67 minutes. A sort pass back by Juanfran left Cuellar stranded and allowed Benzema to pinch the ball. He laid it back to Vicinius who set up Vasquez for a simple finish into an empty net.
Juanfran tried to make amends straight away and his cross was met by Braithwaite who powered another header towards goal, but he was off target on this occasion.
Madrid sealed the win and gave themselves breathing space in the tie in the 77th minute through Vicinius’ lovely volley.
Braithwaite fought manfully until the end and the Dane brought another decent save from Navas with a late header.
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P