Zidane singles out Benzema and Hazard as Real Madrid put pressure back on Barcelona

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane said he was “delighted” for Karim Benzema after the star forward surpassed Ferenc Puskas on the club’s all-time scorers list.

Benzema scored an excellent brace to inspire a 3-0 La Liga conquer 10-man Valencia at Madrid Castilla’s Alfredo Di Stefano stadium on Thursday.

After opening the scoring just after dark hour-mark, Benzema completed the victory in stunning fashion with four minutes remaining – rifling a volley past Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen following Marco Asensio’s 74th-mintue effort.

Benzema’s two-goal display in the Spanish capital took his tally to 243 goals for Madrid across all competitions, leapfrogging club great Puskas (242) for fifth on the all-time list.

“It was a great goal, for the move and the finish – I’m delighted for Karim’s goals,” Zidane said after Madrid moved back within two points of leaders and rivals Barcelona.

Eden Hazard also impressed for Madrid – the Belgium star combining with Luka Modric to tee up Benzema for the opening goal in Madrid.

Injury and fitness have hampered Hazard’s maiden Madrid campaign, but the former Chelsea attacker showed glimpses of why Los Blancos invested so heavily in the 29-year-old.

“This was a really good game from Hazard,” Zidane added. “Physically, he was good and played 80 minutes. Sometimes you might think he’s starting to look tired, but then he picks up the ball and sprints away.”

Madrid remain within touching distance of Barca with nine matches remaining in the coronavirus-impacted 2019-20 La Liga season.

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On the title race, Zidane said: “We know that it will likely be like this before the end, but today we are able to be happy because of what we’ve done in the overall game.

“They are the ones fighting; we have to enjoy and congratulate the players because it was a complete game and then think about the next game against Real Sociedad.”

Barca will face third-placed Sevilla on Friday and Zidane added: “We depend on what we are going to do, knowing the situation. I’ll watch the game, but I don’t have the idea in my head that Barcelona will slip up; we have to think about ourselves.”