Benzema's goal spurs lacklustre Real Madrid

Benzema's goal spurs lacklustre Real Madrid

Under coach Jose Mourinho, the France international has started most games on the bench, scoring only one league goal before Sunday, and the club have said they are looking for another striker to replace the injured Gonzalo Higuain.

Real struggled to create chances against a gritty Mallorca, who held them to a 0-0 draw on the opening day of the season, and looked in danger of dropping points for a second successive game until Benzema netted in the 61st minute.

The former Olympique Lyon forward picked up a pass on the edge of the penalty area, created space for himself and sent a low shot past Mallorca's Israel goalkeeper Dudu Aouate. The win prevented Real from slipping further behind leaders Barcelona, who were seven ahead before kickoff after beating Racing Santander 3-0 on Saturday.

With an eye on Wednesday's King's Cup semifinal first leg at holders Sevilla, Mourinho initially rested midfielders Xabi Alonso and Mesut Ozil and Michael Laudrup's well-drilled Mallorca side had the best of the early exchanges. There were whistles around the stadium when the teams went off goalless at halftime but the introduction of Alonso and Ozil, replacing Fernando Gago and Kaka, gave the hosts more bite and penetration after the break.

In Sunday's earlier games, Atletico Madrid lost 0-1 at struggling Sporting Gijon. A defensive error allowed striker David Barral to score six minutes after halftime and the defeat leaves Atletico seven points behind fifth-placed Espanyol and follows their elimination from the King's Cup at the hands of city rivals Real Madrid on Thursday. Surprise packages Espanyol continued their fine run with a 3-1 comeback win at Getafe.

Almeria, who play Barca in the semifinals of the Cup on Wednesday, climbed off the bottom with a 3-2 win at home to Osasuna and are 18th.