Benzema hat trick as Real Madrid conquer Camp Nou to qualify for Copa del Rey final
Barcelona : Karim Benzema scored a hat trick as Real Madrid took advantage of important injuries for FC Barcelona to overturn a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal to book their place in the final with a 4-0 win in Camp Nou Stadium.
Three second-half goals from Benzema after a vital opener from Vinicius Jr on the stroke of halftime put Madrid on their way to a final spot against Osasuna on May 6, reports Xinhua.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti picked an attacking side, with Benzema, Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo in attack and Fede Valverde in midfield, while Xavi Hernandez’s options were limited by injuries with Andreas Christensen, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele all sidelined.
Barca started stronger, with Lewandowski seeing a shot deflected wide and Raphinha heading at Thibaut Courtois before great defending from Ronald Araujo denied Vinicius Jr and a quick Madrid counterattack.
There was plenty of high pressure and individual marking and tensions ran high between Vinicius and Gavi, with both booked after reacting angrily.Real Madrid took the lead in first-half injury time with a counter-attack. Courtois again denied Lewandowski with a reflex save and the ball fell kindly for Madrid to catch Barca wrong-footed.
Rodrygo had space and pulled the ball back for Vinicius and although Ter Stegen got a hand onto his shot, the ball had the legs to just cross the line, although Benzema thumped it into the back of the net to make sure.
Benzema put Madrid 2-0 up on the night and 2-1 up on aggregate five minutes into the second half with a low finish after Luka Modric set the striker up on the edge of the area.The Frenchman then made it 3-0 from the penalty spot after Franck Kessie caught Vinicius, whose speed drew the foul from the midfielder and it was almost 4-0 moments afterward when Modric’s cross was just inches away from Rodrygo.
Xavi must have looked at a bench filled with B-team players and wondered how he could turn the result around and although he had Ansu Fati, Eric Garcia and Ferran Torres to bring on, he couldn’t stop Benzema from finishing his hat-trick nine minutes from time after a measured pass from Vinicius.
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