MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez had particular praise for Karim Benzema on Saturday after the France forward struck twice to lead his team to a 4-1 win at home to Getafe in La Liga.
Benzema was almost back to his best with a couple of clinical finishes after a difficult few months disrupted by injury and his implication in a case of alleged blackmail.
The 27-year-old is under investigation by French authorities over an apparent attempt to extort money from his France team mate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex video.
Benzema was given a rousing ovation at the Bernabeu when he was substituted in the second half and Benitez underlined the Frenchman’s key role in the team at his news conference.
“His two goals show that he is very important and that he makes those around him better,” he told reporters.
“We talked about him scoring two goals and he achieved the objective that was set,” added Benitez, who has been under pressure in recent weeks after Real were hammered 4-0 by arch-rvials Barcelona in last month’s La Liga ‘Clasico’.
Real needed a strong showing against city rivals Getafe after a troubled week when they were thrown out of the King’s Cup for fielding an ineligible player.
They have said they will appeal the decision, although the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) was sharply critical of the club in its ruling published on Friday.
Some sections of the home fans whistled Benitez when his name was read out with the team lists before kickoff on Saturday and he said he respected the supporters’ opinions.
“We are focused on doing our work and we want to do our best,” Benitez said. “What we are looking for is playing good games like today.”
(Writing by Iain Rogers, Editing by Ken Ferris)