Hat-trick hero Karim Benzema dedicated a record-breaking night to the Real Madrid fans after they stunned Paris St Germain with a second-half comeback to secure a 3-2 win over the Ligue 1 side on aggregate.
The France international hit a 17-minute treble, which included two goals in two minutes, to overtake Alfredo Di Stefano and move into third in the list of all-time goalscorers for the LaLiga outfit.
Benzema’s treble took his season tally to 27 and made it 309 goals overall for Madrid while at 34 he also became the oldest player to net a hat-trick in the Champions League to ensure Kylian Mbappe’s opener at the Bernabeu proved immaterial in the end.
“We needed the fans and this is for them,” Benzema said, as quoted by BBC Sport.
“It was a very difficult game but we pushed until the end and we deserve the win. We lost the first leg, they went 1-0 up, but our fans pushed us to give everything right to the final whistle.”
Mbappe opened the scoring in the 39th minute when he latched onto Neymar’s first-time pass and slotted into the bottom corner.
The 2018 World Cup winner had an effort ruled out for offside minutes earlier and saw another offside flag deny him in the 53rd minute.
It would be crucial with Benzema equalising just past the hour mark when he closed down Gianluigi Donnarumma and Vinicius Junior latched onto the Italian’s wayward pass and teed up Madrid’s number nine to make it 1-1.
With Luka Modric pulling the strings to nullify the influence of Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi, it was a fine dribble by the Croatian that enabled Benzema to drill in via a deflection in the 76th minute and two minutes later – after a miscued clearance by Marquinhos – Benzema poked home from 16-yards to complete a thrilling turnaround.
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Benzema added: “In the first leg, we have to say we were lucky to leave there only losing 1-0 but we knew it would be different in Madrid.
“We pushed, we conceded a goal, but we were confident that we would have chances. It’s a big Champions League evening and we showed we’re a big club.
“We knew they’re a team that if you put them under pressure, they don’t panic, but it’s more difficult for them. When you take the ball off them, when you put them under pressure, they can’t connect with the three up front.”
Mbappe had gone close before his opener and appeared to be set to dump long-term admirers Madrid out but mistakes cost the French side.
Goalkeeper Donnarumma was caught on the ball for Benzema’s first and PSG captain Marquinhos’ erratic night was demonstrated best with a terrible clearance straight to the forward in the area for the decisive third goal.
PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino will now face heightened scrutiny the club’s Qatari owners, but he insisted: “The first goal completely changed the game.
“For an hour, we were better than Real Madrid. The atmosphere changed in the stadium. We made some mistakes after that, we can’t say we didn’t.
“The worst feeling is we were the better side but we lost the tie in 10 minutes.
“Paris St Germain have been chasing the Champions League for a number of years now. I’m really disappointed, upset but these things can happen. The next few weeks are not going to be easy.”
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