The Ballon d’Or hopeful showed expert composure on the highest of stages against Manchester City
Karim Benzema stole headlines and social media praise after a superb penalty from Panenka in a Champions League semi-final first leg for Real Madrid against Manchester City on Tuesday.
In one of the most thrilling knockout matches in the elite competition of all time, City prevailed 4-3 but were consistently pinned by the 13-time winners and their never say die attitude led by people like Benzema and Luka Modric.
When Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus led the Mancunians 2-0 at the Etihad after just 11 minutes, Benzema pulled one back with a nifty no-look volley past the half-hour mark.
As England international Phil Foden then made it 3-1 with a thunderous header, Vinicius Junior kept Madrid in the fight with some clever nutmeg from compatriot Fernandinho before Bernardo Silva fired the Premier League leaders 4-2 for good with just 15 minutes to go. spare part.
But setting up what is sure to be an intriguing second encounter at the Bernabeu in a week’s time, Benzema netted his 14th goal of the current Champions League campaign in the coolest of ways.
Feeling no pressure, he trotted to his 82nd-minute penalty with the confidence of a veteran in the form of his life and on the verge of winning the Ballon d’Or by smashing a cheeky Panenka past the Brazilian shot-stopper Ederson to ensure the evening ended 4-3.
The effort was immediately dubbed the “perfect” point kick, and “absolutely outrageous”.
“Not so easy with this atmosphere” another fan also noted that City boss Pep Guardiola’s reaction to the consolation goal also went viral.
“Unbelievable. If this man doesn’t win the Ballon d’Or, the world has gone mad,” someone else said.
To this effect, several major Twitter accounts have made requests such as “Give Him Now” compared to the highest individual honor in football currently held by former FC Barcelona rival Lionel Messi, now at Paris Saint Germain.
“Give my son Benzi the Ballon d’Or” said former teammate Mesut Ozil.
Incredible. If this man doesn’t win the Balon D’Or, the world has gone mad.
—Atlas (@Atlas31828896) April 26, 2022
Showing no signs of slowing down at the age of 34, it’s hard to argue that Benzema doesn’t ultimately deserve the recognition of France Football’s panel of journalists who decide where the prestigious gong ends.
Last night, Benzema not only showed the same leadership that saw him score two hat-tricks in the last 32 and quarter-finals to eliminate PSG and Chelsea from the competition. He also broke records.
Thanks to his brace, he became the first Real Madrid player to score 40 goals in a season since Ronaldo and is also the first player with eight goals in a single UCL knockout stage since CR7 achieved the feat in the 2016-2017 season where Los Blancos went. to win the big-eared trophy against Juventus.
As things stand, only Ronaldo (13) has scored more Champions League semi-final goals in his career, with Benzema’s seven goals surpassing Messi’s six.
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday morning, Benzema put down the gauntlet for the next 90 minutes against City where two unanswered goals from the La Liga giants would see them reach their first UCL final since 2018.
“The game has only just begun,” Benzema tweeted. “We are Real Madrid.”
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