Karim Benzema: the Champions League’s main man

After finishing the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League season as its top scorer with 15 goals, Karim Benzema was made to wait until Real Madrid’s clash with Liverpool in the last-16 for his first UCL goals of the 2022/23 campaign. He registered two second-half strikes within 12 minutes (55′, 67′) to complete a remarkable comeback against a bewildered Liverpool side. The Reds had taken an early 2-0 lead, but entered the break level after Vinícius Júnior scored a brace.

The former Olympique Lyonnais man remains the competition’s fourth-highest goalscorer, with 88 goals compared to third-placed Robert Lewandowski, who has 91. He looks likely to overtake the Polish striker, whose current club FC Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League in November. Barcelona now continue their quest for international glory in the Europa League, as they travel to Old Trafford for the second leg of their play-off game on Thursday (2-2 at Camp Nou on the 16th of February).

In scoring his brace at Anfield, the 35-year-old became the oldest Frenchman to score in the knockout stages of the Champions League, as pointed out by Statsdufoot, ahead of Olivier Giroud. He also solidified his status as a bogeyman for English clubs: only Paris-Saint-Germain’s Lionel Messi has scored more goals against English teams in the UCL. He was particularly dangerous against tonight’s opposition: no other player has scored more goals against Liverpool in the UCL (6 goals).

Just two and a half weeks ago, the current Ballon d’Or winner limped off against Valencia in a La Liga fixture, which cast some doubt over his fitness for their imminent clash with last year’s vice-champions. But he only missed one game in La Liga. He returned for the next match and scored two goals against Elche. He was rested for Los Blancos‘ most recent Spanish League game. And rightfully so -he was pivotal in Real Madrid’s eventual 5-2 thumping of Liverpool. Before tonight, no club had ever scored five goals in one Champions League game at Anfield.

GFFN | Brendan Cox


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