Football news - Karim Benzema at the double as Real Madrid ease into Copa del Rey final four
Copa del Rey Quarter-final Second Leg, Estadio Montilivi - Girona 1 (Porro 71') Real Madrid 3 (Benzma 27', 43', Llorente 76') Real Madrid win 7-3 on aggregate
Karim Benzema’s fine form continued as his brace helped Real Madrid to ease into the semi finals of the Copa del Rey with a 3-1 (7-3 on aggregate) win over Girona.
Santiago Solari took no chances with his team selection following the first leg which finished 4-2 to the European champions, fielding a full strength side. That quality saw Real Madrid through, where they will join Barcelona, Real Betis and Valencia in the competition’s final four.
Girona gave the visitors a scare after only a few minutes when Alex Granell’s deep free-kick crashed off Keylor Navas’ crossbar. However, the nerves were settled after 27 minutes as Benzema wrong-footed the keeper with a low, left-footed strike into the net.
Karim Benzema of Real Madrid celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 during the Copa del Quarter Final match between Girona and Real Madrid at Montilivi Stadium on January 31, 2019 in Girona, SpainGetty Images
Benzema doubled his, and Real Madrid’s, tally just before the break with a curling, right-footed effort off the inside of the far post, but Vinicius Junior deserved a lot of credit for the way he created the space for the Frenchman.
The hosts grabbed a consolation goal in the second half through Pedro Porro, but there was still time for Marcos Llorente to add his name to the score sheet, firing home a stunning drive to put the finishing touches on the victory.
TALKING POINT - The Copa del Rey has become a priority for Real Madrid
10 points divide Barcelona and Real Madrid in the Liga table. It seems highly unlikely that Solari’s side will be able to claw that back and so the Copa del Rey has become a priority for them this season. This is a trophy that Real Madrid haven’t won since 2014 and it’s clear in the team selections of Solari that a certain bounty has been placed on the head of the competition. They want to win it badly.
Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King's Cup) quarter-final second leg football match between Girona FC and Real Madrid CF at the Montilivi stadium in Girona on JGetty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH - Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
He was the Man of the Match in the first leg, turning in one of his best ever displays in a Real Madrid shirt, and Benzema came close to reaching those heights again in the second leg. The introduction of Vinicius to the first team has seemingly liberated the French striker, who has been key in Real Madrid’s recent upturn in form.
Real Madrid celebrate Karim Benzema's goalGetty Images
4’ Off the crossbar! Inches away from being the perfect start for Girona. Granell was surely going for a cross there with a freekick out wide, but it clangs off the underside of the bar.
27’ GOAL! Girona 0-1 Real Madrid (2-5 on aggregate): That goal might finish things in this tie. The defending from Girona was too slack as they allowed Benzema to surge into the penalty area and the Frenchman wrong-footed the keeper with his low, left foot strike.
43’ GOAL! Girona 0-2 Real Madrid (2-6 on aggregate): Benzema has doubled his, and Real Madrid's, tally for the night! Vinicius drew two defenders to him, creating the space for his French teammate to guide a curling, right-footed effort in off the inside of the far post.
71’ GOAL! Girona 1-2 Real Madrid (3-6 on aggregate): Girona have got a goal back, but they still have a mountain to climb. It's a well-taken goal from the home side. Pachon plays the nice pass in behind the Real Madrid backline and Porro squeezes the shot past Navas.
76’ GOAL! Girona 1-3 Real Madrid (3-7 on aggregate): What a strike from Llorente! That's the exclamation mark on this win for Real Madrid. The young midfielder burst into the Girona box, the angle was tight for him, but still managed to find the far corner with a low strike.
Real Madrid GironaGetty Images
Marcos Llorente has scored with his only two shots on target this season (against Al-Ain and Girona).
Karim Benzema has now scored a brace twice against the same opponent (Girona) in the same season for the first time as a Real Madrid player.