Real's Benzema turning Bernabeu boos into cheers
Updated: 2014-11-05 09:44
By Iain Rogers(Agencies)
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema celebrates scoring against Liverpool during their Champions League Group B soccer match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid November 4, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
MADRID - Karim Benzema has endured his share of whistling from Real Madrid's demanding fans in recent years but the France forward appears to have finally won over the Bernabeu after netting another Champions League goal on Tuesday.
Benzema was given a standing ovation by the Real faithful when he was taken off near the end of the 1-0 Group B win over Liverpool having struck for the holders in the 27th minute with a clinical finish from a Marcelo cross.
It was his fifth goal in four matches in the latest edition of Europe's elite club competition, and his 41st in 68 appearances overall, and meant Real secured their place in the last 16 with two games to spare.
Benzema has had plenty of struggles since joining Real from Olympique Lyonnais in 2009 but appears to be blossoming under the Spanish club's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Ancelotti has gone out of his way not to put public pressure on the 26-year-old, repeatedly pointing out that the Frenchman's work rate and assists are crucial to the team's success.
"I think that he is in a very, very good moment, I don't know if it is the best," Ancelotti told a news conference.
"I think it is the best moment for him since I have been here," he added. "He is a very important player for us."
Benzema for once overshadowed prolific Portuguese team mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who remains one goal short of the Champions League scoring record of 71 set by former Real and Schalke 04 forward Raul.
Asked whether he thought Ronaldo was "frustrated" at not scoring against Liverpool, the Italian joked that he had been the frustrated one in his playing days as he "never scored".
"I don't think Cristiano is anxious about scoring goals," Ancelotti said. "We haven't talked about the record, just tried to prepare the games well. He didn't score but he'll score in the next one. I think he is already focusing on the next game."
Real host Rayo Vallecano on Saturday when they will look to protect a one point lead at the top of La Liga.
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