Karim Benzema buried his World Cup nightmare with two late goals as Real Madrid defeated Valladolid 2-0 on Friday to go top of Spain’s La Liga.
Ballon d’Or winner Benzema was selected in the French squad for the World Cup in Qatar but a thigh injury in training saw him forced to withdraw before the opening game.
He then announced his retirement from international football following the tournament where France were runners-up to Argentina.
On Friday, he tucked away his first goals since 19 October when Real defeated Elche.
However, he had to be patient with his first goal coming in the 83rd minute from a penalty awarded when Javi Sanchez was punished for handball.
Helped by a red card for Valladolid’s Sergio Leon, Benzema then added his second of the night six minutes later from a pass by French compatriot Eduardo Camavinga.
The victory moved Real one point clear at the top but Barcelona can reclaim pole position on Saturday when they tackle city rivals Espanyol.
“Karim saved the game for us,” said Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
“He is fine, he lacked a bit of rhythm. Last year, he would have scored one or two more goals.”
Sevilla dug deep to claim a point in a 1-1 relegation scrap at Celta Vigo.
Fourth last season, Sevilla have just two wins from 15 games this term.
On Friday, they came from a goal down with Kike Salas scoring the leveller on 54 minutes after they fell behind to a first-half strike from Gabri Veiga.
Sevilla remain third bottom in the table on 12 points with Celta two places better off on 13.
Sevilla, who played in the Champions League this season, replaced coach Julen Lopetegui with Argentinian taskmaster Jorge Sampaoli in October.
Elsewhere on Friday, Almeria drew 1-1 with Cadiz while Borja Mayoral scored twice as Getafe beat Mallorca 2-0.