Karim Benzema tipped for Ballon d’Or as striker’s two goals including ‘incredible’ Panenka penalty keep Real Madrid in touch with Man City


Manchester City couldn’t stop brilliant Karim Benzema as his two goals held Real Madrid firmly in their Champions League clash against the Premier League side, who won 4-3 at the Etihad Stadium.

After Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus gave City a 2-0 lead early on, Benzema excellently struck home a volley from the edge of the pitch to halve the deficit.

Man City looked like they were running away with
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Karim Benzema tipped for Ballon d'Or as striker's two goals including 'incredible' Panenka penalty keep Real Madrid in touch with Man City
But the chic Benzema had other ideas
AFP

The strike prompted talkSPORT’s Adrian Durham to say: “The Ballon d’Or is coming, surely?”

Phil Foden restored City’s two-goal lead with a header early in the second half before Real Madrid pulled one back thanks to Vinicius Jr’s excellent running and finishing.

A superb effort from Bernardo Silva appeared to give Pep Guardiola’s men a two-goal lead heading into the second leg, but Benzema had other ideas.

The Frenchman, who now has 41 goals for Real Madrid this season, did it in style as he brilliantly made it 4-3 with a penalty from Panenka, a strike described as “incredible” by talkSPORT’s Trevor Sinclair.

City may regret missing out on a number of early opportunities as they stormed out of the blocks. They could have almost put the game out of sight in the first half hour but Real, after strong comebacks against Paris St Germain and Chelsea in the previous two rounds, fought back again.

Real were slow and sloppy and continually left spaces for the hosts to exploit. Some of Foden’s touches were exquisite and De Bruyne’s through balls were a constant danger.

It was De Bruyne who got City off to a dream start, heading in their first goal after just two minutes from a Riyad Mahrez cross.


Karim Benzema tipped for Ballon d'Or as striker's two goals including 'incredible' Panenka penalty keep Real Madrid in touch with Man City
De Bruyne put City ahead after 94 seconds
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Karim Benzema tipped for Ballon d'Or as striker's two goals including 'incredible' Panenka penalty keep Real Madrid in touch with Man City
And Jesus doubled his lead on 11 minutes
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The atmosphere was crackling and City took more inspiration from it, doubling their lead nine minutes later.

Foden showed great control before giving in to De Bruyne, who drilled a low ball into the box for Jesus. The Brazilian had his back to goal but, buoyed by the four-goal run against Watford that earned him a place in the squad, he was too fast for David Alaba. He turned sharply, took the defender on the wrong foot and fired a low shot past Thibaut Courtois.

City went close again as Oleksandr Zinchenko shot wide and Mahrez infuriated manager Pep Guardiola by hitting the side netting rather than battling for Foden, who then shot wide himself.

Still, even though City were playing, they looked vulnerable at the back. Guardiola’s gamble on fending off John Stones from injury to play at right-back in the absence of Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker also backfired.

The England international struggled and was caught off guard as Benzema crossed and Alaba eyed a header wide.

City ignored that warning and Real scored the same way, this time Ferland Mendy crossing for Benzema to turn away, the strike described as “outrageous” by Sinclair. Stones was replaced by Fernandinho moments later.

Karim Benzema tipped for Ballon d'Or as striker's two goals including 'incredible' Panenka penalty keep Real Madrid in touch with Man City
Benzema brilliantly adjusted his body and slot in the bottom corner
AFP

City picked up the pace after the break and hit the post through Mahrez. Foden’s follow-up attempt was blocked by Dani Carvajal but he made no mistake in the 53rd minute when he got a fine cross from improvised right-back Fernandinho to head in City’s third.

Once again from a position of control, City allowed Real back into the game. Vinicius brushed off Fernandinho and was too quick for the rest of the defence, rushing into the box to slot into the bottom corner.

It might even have been 3-3 soon after as Eder Militao found space but headed Ederson.

Such was the tension that Guardiola was cautioned for stepping out of his technical area.

Karim Benzema tipped for Ballon d'Or as striker's two goals including 'incredible' Panenka penalty keep Real Madrid in touch with Man City
Foden made it 3-1 early in the second half
AFP
Karim Benzema tipped for Ballon d'Or as striker's two goals including 'incredible' Panenka penalty keep Real Madrid in touch with Man City
But Real Madrid responded straight away with this excellent goal from Vinicius Jr
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City were determined to add to their tally and their fourth came after referee Istvan Kovacs played a good advantage when Toni Kroos brought down Zinchenko at the edge of the box. Real stopped expecting the whistle to blow, but Silva kept playing and hit a shot into the top corner. They continued even after that, with Mahrez inches apart.

Real weren’t done and pulled back another eight minutes from time with a cool Benzema Panenka penalty after Aymeric Laporte’s manipulation.

Karim Benzema tipped for Ballon d'Or as striker's two goals including 'incredible' Panenka penalty keep Real Madrid in touch with Man City
It was mean coming from Benzema, who has ice in his veins
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