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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Andrew Gastelum

Benzema Nets Hat Trick to Eliminate Barcelona in Copa del Rey

In the midst of a remarkable year, Real Madrid star Karim Benzema added to his reputation as a giant killer with a hat trick to defeat rival Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinals.

The French striker ran away with the Ballon d’Or award in October based on his uncanny prowess on the biggest stage in elimination games, a trend that continued Wednesday in a 4–0 win over Barça. 

Real Madrid entered the second leg at the Camp Nou facing a 1–0 deficit against the La Liga leaders, but Benzema decimated the Barcelona defense with three second-half goals. The forward notched his first goal in the 50th minute after Vinícius Júnior opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time. 

Then Benzema added a penalty kick in the 58th minute that silenced the Camp Nou. 

Benzema was clinical with his third goal to cap off the 30-minute hat trick and seal the win on a 4–1 aggregate. The performance marked Benzema’s second straight match with a hat trick after Real Madrid destroyed Real Valladolid at the weekend. 

It was a familiar sight for Real Madrid fans after the way Benzema tore through Europe’s top clubs in Champions League elimination games last season. Facing a first-leg deficit to PSG in the round of 16 last season, a Benzema hat trick sent Real Madrid through to face Chelsea. Another Benzema hat trick, this time in the first leg, sent Real into the semifinals against Man City, where the Frenchman recorded three goals in the two legs. 

Next up for Real Madrid in its Champions League title defense will be a meeting with a fledgling Chelsea side that just fired its second manager of the season. And after knocking out its archival, Madrid will face Osasuna in the Copa del Rey final.

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