• Zidane praises Benzema as Real Madrid go two points clear

    Benzema Real Madrid

    Zinedine Zidane believes Karim Benzema’s incredible assist in Real Madrid’s win over Espanyol may be one of the plays of the season.

    Benzema produced a moment of magic to set up Casemiro in Madrid’s 1-0 victory that sent them two points clear atop La Liga on Sunday.

    The forward’s outrageous backheel through the legs of defender Bernardo Espinosa gave Casemiro a simple finish.

    Madrid head coach Zidane was unsurprised and believes Benzema’s skill could go down as one of the best moments of the campaign.

    “It doesn’t surprise me. He is a player who invents things,” he said, via AS. “And then Casemiro is there. It can be one of the plays of the championship.”

    Benzema himself was quick to talk down the importance of his contribution, but explained he saw the play evolve before he made the backheel.

    “It was a good play, but the most important thing is the goal afterwards,” he said afterwards. “Casemiro gets it right. We are very happy.”

    Pressed on the piece of skill, the French forward added: “I see football like that! I knew Casemiro was coming from behind.”

    The man who profited from the assist – Casemiro – wasn’t surprised by the piece of skill from his team-mate and insisted full credit should go to the target man.

    “What Karim did, for me is normal. We all know that the qualities he has aren’t of a number nine, but of a number 10,” Casemiro said.

    “I know him, I know how he plays and the quality he possesses. I asked for the ball in space, and his backheel pass was incredible.

    “It’s Karim’s goal. It’s the backheel pass of a number 10 and you have to congratulate him.”

    The stunning touch swiftly prompted comparisons to ex-Madrid great Guti, who famously teed up Benzema for an open goal with a similarly stunning touch against Deportivo La Coruna in 2010.

    As clips were shared of both goals on social media, Guti joined in the conversation to praise his former team-mate.

    Sharing a picture of his own assist, the 43-year-old tagged Benzema and posted a series of clapping emojis.

    “Magic, friend,” he wrote. “Brutal.”

    The goal lifted Madrid two points clear of rivals Barcelona with six games remaining in the La Liga season.

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