Champions League - UEFASoccer News


Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema showed nerves of steel as he chipped a Panenka penalty down the middle of the goal in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Manchester City. The penalty means Real only lost the match 4-3 ahead of the second leg at the Bernabeu and Benzema, who has enhanced his Ballon d’Or claim further, says he has confidence in himself.

Karim Benzema has explained how his “mental confidence” was the key to his audacious Panenka penalty against Manchester City.

The striker showed nerves of steel to chip a penalty down the middle and bring Real Madrid back into the Champions League semi-final first leg at the Etihad.

The penalty ensured Real left Manchester with only a one-goal deficit after a 4-3 defeat.

Benzema had missed two penalties in Real’s previous game against Osasuna, but said: “I always have it in my head that if you don’t take a penalty, you will never miss a penalty.

“That’s mental confidence, that’s all. I have a lot of confidence in myself so I do it and it turns out well.

“Now we have to go to the Bernabeu [for the second leg] and we will need our fans like never before and we are going to do something magical, which is win.”

Benzema, who is one of the favourites for the 2022 Ballon d’Or, has now scored a remarkable 41 goals in 41 appearances this season.

By netting twice against City he took his Champions League tally this season to 14, including nine in his last four matches.

Real head coach Carlo Ancelotti said about the penalty: “I think he changed because the last two penalties were not good.

He tried in training, I didn’t know how he would shoot.

“He chose this [Panenka] and he did really well, showing strong personality and character. It’s not easy in the semi-final of the Champions League to shoot a penalty like this.”
Real looked to be facing a tough battle at 4-2 down, but Benzema’s penalty after Aymeric Laporte handled in the box means there is just a goal between the sides as they head to the Bernabeu next week.

“It is a defeat that leaves us alive in the second leg,” said Ancelotti.

“We have to be better in our defensive aspect, but I believe we are able to create problems for them also.

“In the second game I think if we defend better, we will win – but if we defend like today we will be out of the competition.

“My feeling is that we started really poorly in the game, we were too soft, we let in two goals and from there the team showed what they have showed in the last periods.”

Manchester City’s Phil Foden said the hosts could have “killed” off the tie such was their early dominance.

City had chances to score more than four and let Real back into the match by conceding three times.

“For the fans watching it was obviously a great game of football,” Foden, who scored City’s third goal, told BT Sport.

“We are playing a side that have won the Champions League many times and if we give the ball away they are going to punish us. It is something we need to work on in the second leg. The tie is still on.

“It was a great game. End to end. We started really well and could have killed them off. In these games, we need to take more chances.”

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