Benzema backs Real Madrid to do 'something magical' to reach Champions League final

City hold a slender lead after Tuesday's thrilling 4-3 victory in the semi-final first leg at the Etihad

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Karim Benzema believes Real Madrid can do "something magical" and overturn the Champions League semi-final first-leg defeat to Manchester City when the two sides meet again next week in the return fixture.

City claimed a pulsating 4-3 victory at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night in one of the most memorable matches in European Cup history.

The Premier League champions raced into a 2-0 lead, Kevin de Bruyne breaking the deadlock in the second minute and Gabriel Jesus swiftly doubling their advantage. Benzema halved the deficit with a classy finish in the 33rd before Phil Foden headed home unmarked to restore City's two-goal advantage shortly after half time. However, two minutes later, Vinicius Jr made it 3-2 with a superb goal after turning Fernandinho inside out.

Bernardo Silva gave City some breathing room with a stunning strike in the 73rd minute, but Benzema grabbed his second from the penalty spot after Aymeric Laporte handled inside the area. In a sign of the Frenchman's brimming confidence, he dinked a perfectly executed Panenka six days after missing two penalties in one La Liga match.

With the tie delicately poised ahead of the second leg, Benzema has called on Real Madrid and the club's fans to turn the Bernabeu into a fortress next Wednesday as the Spanish giants aim to keep alive their bid for a record-extending 14th European Cup.

"A defeat is never good because we are really excited about the Champions League. The most important thing is we never lay down our arms, we are all in this until the end," Benzema, 33, said.

"Now we have to go to the Bernabeu and we will need our fans like never before and we are going to do something magical, which is win."

Benzema is enjoying the most prolific campaign of his distinguished career. His double against City moved him on to 41 goals in 41 games across competitions, while he surpassed Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski as this season's top goalscorer in the Champions League with 14. Benzema's penalty in particular demonstrated his sensational form having had two spot kicks saved against Osasuna last Wednesday.

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"I always have it in my head that if you don’t take a penalty, you will never miss a penalty," said Benzema, who scored successive Champions League hat-tricks against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the previous two rounds. "That’s mental confidence and that's all. I have a lot of confidence in myself ... so I do it and it turns out well."

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said he was pleased with his team's reaction from going down 2-0 so early in the match but insisted they need to defend better in the second leg to advance to the final.

"It was a fantastic game. As manager of Real Madrid I have to take consideration that we scored three goals, which is really important. We didn't defend well, we can do better," the Italian said. "We concede two goals early in the game and then we are able to react really well. We kept the game open until the end. Now we have a great dream to play the second game in the Bernabeu and we hope to have the chance to go to the final.

"We need [some magic] as we are going to play against a really strong team. We competed today and we need to do that more in our stadium."

Updated: April 27, 2022, 5:19 AM
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