Karim Benzema goes into Real Madrid’s second leg against Manchester City with the Champions League single-season scoring record in sight.
Benzema’s 14 goals in this season’s competition are just three shy of Cristiano Ronaldo’s record, and joint-fifth in the chart overall.
Here, the PA news agency looks at his season and how he compares.
Frenchman on fire
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 12, 2022
France striker Benzema scored five goals in as many games in the group stage of this year’s competition, including a brace against Shakhtar Donetsk, but it is in the knockout rounds where he has truly come to life.
After being shut out along with his team as they lost the first leg 1-0 to Paris St Germain in the last 16, his hat-trick in the return fixture saw his side through 3-2 on aggregate.
He fired another treble in the quarter-final first leg against Chelsea – the fourth in his Champions League career, exceeded only by Ronaldo and Lionel Messi with eight apiece and Robert Lewandowski with five – and scored an extra-time winner after the Blues matched the 3-1 scoreline in 90 minutes.
Two goals, including an outrageous Panenka penalty, in last week’s barnstorming 4-3 loss to City kept Real in the tie and set up the possibility of more drama on Wednesday.
One more goal will match Ronaldo’s record 10 in the knockout stages, set in 2016-17, while Benzema has 42 goals in all competitions this season.
Matching Messi, chasing Cristiano
Ronaldo started his historic campaign with a hat-trick against Galatasaray, and scored twice in a game on a further five occasions – against Copenhagen and Juventus in the group stage, Schalke home and away in the last 16 and at Bayern Munich in the semi-final.
He scored once each in the return fixtures with Juve and Copenhagen, with Borussia Dortmund his other victims on the way to a final where his late extra-time penalty capped a 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid. He scored in 10 of the 11 games he played, with the home leg against Bayern the only exception.
He almost repeated the dose two years later, scoring 16 in 12 games including four against Malmo and further hat-tricks against Shakhtar and Wolfsburg, and also netted 15 in 2017-18.
The latter total was matched by Lewandowski as Bayern won the 2019-20 tournament. The Pole achieved that mark in 10 games to Ronaldo’s 13, helped by a four-goal salvo against Red Star Belgrade and doubles against Tottenham, Olympiakos and Chelsea.
Benzema has already matched Messi’s best Champions League tally, 14 in 2011-12. That came in 11 games though the Argentinian only scored in six of those, including a hat-trick against Viktoria Plzen and five goals against Bayer Leverkusen – a record for a Champions League game, matched two years later by Luiz Adriano for Shakhtar Donetsk against BATE Borisov.