Karim Benzema scored in his final match with Real Madrid before being substituted and receiving a standing ovation from the fans. Madrid drew 1-1 against Athletic Bilbao, with Benzema scoring the equalizer in the 72nd minute. The French striker will not return to the club next season, ending his 14-year career with the Spanish powerhouse. Vinícius Júnior also returned to action for the first time since being racially abused in a league match against Valencia two weeks ago. Benzema’s farewell came amid reports that he will play in Saudi Arabia next season. Madrid finished in second place ahead of Atletico Madrid.
As per The Indian Express, Karim Benzema bid farewell to Real Madrid with a goal and a standing ovation from the fans during his final game at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sunday. The French striker, who has been with the Spanish powerhouse for 14 seasons, converted a penalty kick in the 72nd minute to score the equalizer in Madrid’s 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao. He was immediately substituted by Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, receiving a big ovation from the fans.
Madrid had announced earlier Sunday that Benzema would not return next season, bringing an end to his memorable career with the club. His farewell came amid reports that he will play in Saudi Arabia next season. After the match, Madrid players threw Benzema up in the air a few times, as they did for the other players not returning next season — Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard, and Mariano Diaz.
Benzema’s departure from Madrid has been met with mixed emotions from fans and players alike. Ancelotti, who has coached some of the world’s greatest players and best strikers, said, “We can’t be pleased about his departure, but we have to respect his decision. He’s earned the right to choose, and we all thank him for everything he’s done for this club. He’s been a legendary, unforgettable figure, and he’ll remain forever in the memory of this club.”
Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois also expressed his admiration for Benzema, saying, “It was a pleasure to play with him. He is an excellent player, a legend. It’s a pity that he is leaving, but we understand that he has the right to choose his destiny.”
Benzema’s farewell match also saw the return of Vinicius Junior to action for the first time since he was racially abused in a league match against Valencia two weeks ago. Vinicius, who had not played in the last two Madrid games following the incident, was not able to score in the 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao, having a 79th-minute goal disallowed for offside.
The last round of the Spanish league also saw Valladolid’s relegation and Atletico Madrid’s failure to secure second place in the league table. Atletico drew 2-2 at Villarreal after conceding a stoppage-time equalizer, allowing Madrid to finish in second place ahead of them.
Benzema’s departure from Madrid marks the end of an era for the club and its fans. The 35-year-old striker has been instrumental in Madrid’s success over the years, scoring 279 goals in 559 appearances and helping the club win four Champions League titles and three La Liga titles. His legacy at the club will be remembered for years to come.