Karim Benzema fully merits the plaudits for a stunning start to the season, according to Real Madrid team-mate Toni Kroos.
Benzema scored Madrid’s second goal in a 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday and leads LaLiga for both goals (10) and assists (seven).
He has now been directly involved in 22 goals in 15 matches for Madrid in all competitions this season, trailing only Bayern Munich talisman Robert Lewandowski (25 involvements in 17 matches) of players in Europe’s top-five leagues.
“I see what Karim does in training and how he plays and deserves every success,” Kroos told Movistar.
“But what matters to me is what you win with us. I am happy with my goal but because it helped us win. The individual awards do not interest me much.
“We came from a tough match in the Champions League and at 2-1 you suffer a little. Vinicius has helped us a lot so far, in difficult times too, and I hope he continues like this.”
Benzema has now reached 10 goals in 11 of his 13 seasons in La Liga (10 in 2021-22) and only former Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi (15) has scored 10-plus goals in more campaigns in the competition in the 21st century than the French striker.
17 – @Benzema (10) and @vinijr (7) have scored 17 goals in @LaLigaEN combined, this is the 2nd highest record in Top 5 European Leagues this season, only behind @FCBayern duo (19 – Robert Lewandowski (13) and Serge Gnabry (6)). Powder. pic.twitter.com/qWLdjC2Zjt
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 6, 2021
The 33-year-old Benzema was substituted by Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti with seven minutes left and replaced by Eden Hazard.
Ancelotti felt Benzema could have got more goals – having had one struck off by VAR early in the first half before he netted from close range – but suffered from fatigue in the second half.
“It’s quite rare that Karim misses the opportunities we’ve had,” Ancelotti added. “I have removed him because he was tired.”
Rayo pulled a goal back through former Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao, who has netted a goal every 67 minutes in LaLiga this season with the best ratio in the competition (five goals after 334 minutes played).
Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois admitted the failure to keep a clean sheet took the gloss of the victory and his team-mates must learn to grind out a victory if they are unable to be prolific in front of goal.
“It was part good and part bittersweet at the end,” Courtois said.
“We controlled the game, but in the end they almost ended up drawing. Today the three points were very important. They have pushed and we don’t take advantage of our chances to score more goals.
“We managed the game quite well, but in the penultimate corner they almost scored a goal and there we have to improve. The team has shown that it knows how to fight and that we are focused until the end.
“We have to try to keep a clean sheet and close out the game. It’s something we have to change because we have a lot of quality to score more goals.”
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