Manchester (dpa) – Cool, Cooler, Karim Benzema: With a hand penalty converted in Panenka style, the star striker Real Madrid got the chance to reach the final of the Football Champions League on Tuesday evening.
With a penalty kick lobbed into the middle of the goal and admired by his teammates, the Frenchman made the 3:4 (1:2) final score in the semi-final first leg at Manchester City in the 82nd minute in a thrilling game and a hopeful prospect for the second leg on May 4th at the home Bernabéu Stadium. City, on the other hand, was frustrated by the late goal.
Benzema with 600th game for Real
“It’s unbelievable what he’s playing this season. We’re very, very happy that he’s with us,” said defender David Alaba on the streaming service Amazon Prime Video. After his hat-trick against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 and his four goals against holders Chelsea, Benzema was once again the match-winner in his 600th game for Real. The 34-year-old Frenchman once again put together a brace after his goal in the 33rd minute. Vinicius Junior scored the third goal for the foreseeable Spanish champions (55th). Manchester City were consistently ahead with goals from Kevin De Bruyne (2nd minute), Gabriel Jesus (11th), Phil Foden (53rd) and Bernardo Silva (74th).
Champions League – brace and penalties:
With nine goals in the knockout games of this Champions League season, the world champion is almost single-handedly responsible for Real being able to reach the final of the premier class for the first time since 2018. Benzema’s 14 goals so far also surpass Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 17 in the Champions League in 2013/14.
Unshakeable self-confidence: “It’s going well”
The fact that Karim Benzema took the penalty at all, which he took after the example of former Czechoslovakian international Antonin Panenka, is also a testament to his unshakable self-confidence. After all, the Frenchman recently missed two penalties in the 3-1 win at CA Osasuna. “It’s always in my mind that if you never go for it you never miss a penalty. It’s all mental. I have a lot of confidence… so I do it and it’s going well,” said the 34-year-old.
Real Madrid are now banking on the second leg on Wednesday next week. “The most important thing is that we never gave up and we’re in it until the end. Now we’re going to the Bernabeu where we need our fans more than ever and we’re going to do something magical – win,” Benzema announced.
Enthusiastic about the game but disappointed with the result were players and officials at Premier League leaders Manchester.