Karim Benzema continued his Ballon d’Or pursuit with a 324th goal for European champions Real Madrid as they beat Eintracht Frankfurt to lift the Uefa Super Cup in Helsinki.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who beat Liverpool to win the Champions League in May, took the lead when David Alaba tapped into an empty net, with Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp stranded following Casemiro’s header back across goal.
Benzema doubled the Spanish giants’ lead after the break with a first-time finish from Vinicius Jr’s cross to move second on Real’s all-time goalscoring list, overtaking Raul and behind only Cristiano Ronaldo who has 450 goals.
Frankfurt, making their Super Cup debut, had moments of their own – the best when Daichi Kamada was sent through early on, but the Europa League winners looked second best once Real hit their stride.
Benzema’s name on the Ballon d’Or?
Benzema is coming off the most prolific season in his career, scoring 44 times in 46 games for Real Madrid to help his side win a Champions League and La Liga double – and he looks set to continue that form.
The 34-year-old, who captained Real in the Super Cup final, said this week former team-mate Ronaldo “helped me on and off the pitch”, but admitted he was able to adapt his game and score more goals once the Portugal star left.
After his goal on Wednesday, Benzema is second only to Ronaldo as Real’s all-time leading scorer and staring at individual accolades as well as team prizes, becoming the frontrunner to win the Ballon d’Or in October.
“Benzema is very important, our leader,” Ancelotti told Movistar.”We are here mostly because of him – he scored many important goals.
“There are no doubts about who should win the Ballon d’Or, it should be Karim.”
The Italian added: “For us he’s the most important and most effective player in the world.”
“He is an amazing centre-forward,” former England midfielder Owen Hargreaves told BT Sport. “The great players rise to these occasions. When they have needed Benzema, he has produced.
“If he doesn’t win the Ballon d’Or this season, he never will. I can’t see how he doesn’t win it. He is irreplaceable. He will age well because he has always been a smart player.
“He doesn’t look like he is slowing down – there isn’t another one out there like him.”
Former Real Madrid winger Steve McManaman added: “Incredible, exalted company. Huge iconic names in the history of Real Madrid – only got Cristiano above him and that says a lot.
“[He’s had} 610 appearances to get to where he has got and he deserves all the plaudits.”