Real Madrid took advantage of another Barcelona slip up as they ensured a 2 point gap at the top of the La Liga after a win against bottom side, Espanyol.
Benzema rattled the Espanyol defence on the stroke of half-time with a sublime back-heel that confused two defenders and laid the opener on a plate for Casemiro.
The Brazilian, Casemiro, had earlier gone close to the opener when his shot from his own half was saved by Diego Lopez.
Thibaut Courtois also deserves credit for a host of saves during the game to condemn Espanyol to the bottom of the log.
Chances were scarce in the second period but Real maintained a measure of control, securing their fifth-consecutive victory since the restart as they capitalised on Barcelona’s draw at Celta Vigo to return to the summit of La Liga with six games to play.
Espanyol continue to languish at the foot of the table, 10 points from safety with their 26-year stay in La Liga in jeopardy.
Real Madrid is now only six wins – or five wins and a draw – from a second La Liga title since 2012.
City rivals Atletico can do them a favour when they visit Barca on Thursday.
La Liga matchday 32 round-up: Eibar edge closer to survival, Villarreal boost CL hopes
Eibar edged closer to La Liga survival with a 2-1 victory at Granada.
Kike Garcia struck the winning goal in the 69th minute to restore Eibar’s lead after Granada forward Roberto Soldado had cancelled out Pablo de Blasis’ opening goal, giving the Basques only their second victory on the road this season.
Eibar started the day in the final spot outside the relegation zone, but the win means they move up to 15th on 35 points, nine clear of the relegation places with six matches left to play.
The result means that third-bottom Real Mallorca are eight points from the safety, while 19th-placed Leganes are nine adrift and bottom side Espanyol 10 behind.
Levante effectively sealed their top-flight status with a thumping 4-2 win at home to Real Betis.
The victory sees Levante move up to 12th on 41 points, while Betis stay 13th, 11 points above the bottom three.
Elsewhere, Villarreal beat neighbours Valencia 2-0 to boost their hopes of a top-four finish, while further denting their rivals hopes of returning to the Champions League.
Former Valencia forward Paco Alcacer opened the scoring with a superb volley on the turn in the 14th minute but opted against celebrating against the club where he began his career.
Alcacer’s strike partner Gerard Moreno scored an even better goal to secure all three points.
The result sees them up to fifth on 51 points, three back from fourth-placed Sevilla with six games remaining in the season. By contrast, Valencia, who are eighth, have picked up just four points since the campaign resumed and are without an away win in the league since December.
- Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Mallorca
- Celta Vigo 2-2 Barcelona
- Osasuna 2-1 Leganés
- Atlético Madrid 2-1 Alavés
- Sevilla 1-1 Real Valladolid