Karim Benzema produced a memorable performance to inspire Real Madrid to a comeback win against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16 second leg on Wednesday.
Already leading 1-0 from the first leg, PSG looked to be in total control after Kylian Mbappé doubled the visitors’ aggregate score with a first-half strike. But when it seemed like PSG was cruising into the quarterfinals, Benzema scored a second-half hat-trick in just 17 minutes to turn the tie on its head.
The time between the second and third goal was just 106 seconds as PSG capitulated inside a raucous Santiago Bernabéu Stadium — with the aggregate score 3-2 at the final whistle. “Real Madrid is alive and we showed how we can win against anyone,” Benzema told reporters after the match. “The comeback came due to a matter of mental strength. I’m really honored to be part of this legendary club and now we move forward.”
At 34 years and 80 days, Benzema is now the oldest man to score a hat-trick in the Champions League and the accolades don’t stop there. The Frenchman was making his 500th appearance for Madrid and has now surpassed Alfredo di Stéfano to become the club’s third top scorer. Benzema’s heroics seemed very unlikely until PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made a critical error which led to the first goal.