Strikers always cherish hattricks in football. But nothing is sweeter than a hattrick that helps your team qualify a knock-out tie.
Only Karim Benzema knows how it feels to see his side sinking for the most part of the two ties and then changing it all in a matter of 17 minutes.
Yes, 17 minutes is all that took the French forward to complete his hattrick and his team’s comeback against PSG.
The first encounter between the two teams was a very close one. With PSG nicking one goal in the injury time in the first tie, they held a slender advantage coming into this game.
Still, everyone knew that the game was wide open.
The game started with clear intentions from both sides. From the very first pass that Madrid played, the message was clear. The game was going to be played on Counter attacks.
It was something Madrid had done for years. Ever since Mourinho years, they have been known for their swift counterattacks that caught oppositions off guard.
For PSG, on the other hand, the counterattack was a newly acquired skill. With Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe upfront PSG had the perfect trio to perform it.
The game of Counterattacks
PSG was the dominating force of the two in the early moments of the match. They made some very threatening attacks by utilizing Mbappe’s pace to the fullest. Sadly, they couldn’t make the net bulge, or when they did, the attack was ruled off-side.
That did not stop them from trying, though. And after a point, every attack was a dent on the Madrid defence. Keeping up with the pace of Mbappe is not an easy task, and Madrid found out the hard way.
They couldn’t keep it up for long, though. Their resistance broke at the 39th minute. That is when Mbappe scored his and PSG’s first goal of the game by beating Courtois at the near post.
After this goal, Madrid didn’t look the same at all. They appeared to be battered, bruised and defeated at halftime with an aggregate score of 2-0 in PSG’s favor.
Things didn’t turn around in the second half at all. Instead, it felt like PSG would beat Madrid by an even bigger margin. The linkup play between PSG players was almost immaculate, leading to two more goals.
Only all of them were ruled offside. Taking the count of total goals ruled out in the game to 3.
At 60th minute game stood at 1-0 in PSG’s favor. It felt as if the French side would see this through.
That is when a small miss pass by Donnarumma gifted a goal to Madrid.
Karim Benzema to the rescue
It was a back pass to the goal that led to the nemesis of PSG in the game. The Italian goalkeeper was charged at by Benzema, who created enough pressure on him to make a miss pass.
Madrid quickly capitalized on this mistake, and Benzema scored his first goal in the 61st minute.
There was a sudden resurgence among the fans at Santiago Bernabeu. For the first time in this game, they felt like their team had a chance. They surged their players to make bolder moves and see if they could get something out of the game.
The players on the pitch certainly didn’t let their fans down. Fifteen minutes later, the ball was back in the net, and Benzema was beaming at the crowd as he made his traditional knee slide towards the corner flag.
Three minutes later, the tables had turned. The beauty of football was at full display as the man with the golden touch for the night claimed his third goal.
It was an innocuous-looking attack with Vinicius Junior putting the ball into the box, hoping for something to happen. Benzema’s touch didn’t look that threatening from a certain angle. That was until the ball rolled past the fingers of PSG goalkeeper and the French striker ran towards his teammates in celebration.
Sublime performance by Madrid
In a span of 17 minutes, Benzema changed the game completely. From controlling the match, PSG was reduced to one goal down on the aggregate score. They did try to make a comeback, but their time had passed. Now, it was the time for Los Blancos to move on in the tournament.
The game ended at 3-1. With cheers of joy palpable in the Madrid camp, the PSG camp looked distorted. But there was one man who stood above the rest, Karim Benzema.
He collected the match ball from the referee for his fantastic hattrick as the fans at Bernabeu cheered for him.