Karim Benzema scored a penalty in his last game for Real Madrid as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Athletic Club in LaLiga on Sunday.
With the focus on Benzema, Thibaut Courtois starred in the first half. He saved Mikel Vesga’s 10th-minute penalty kick before tipping Yuri Berchiche’s shot over the bar. The home side’s most valuable chance fell to Rodrygo Goes, who was denied while dribbling around goalkeeper Unai Simon.
Oihan Sancet put Athletic ahead after the break after Courtois stopped his initial effort. Benzema leveled from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute before being substituted to a standing ovation.
- Benzema scores in Bernabeu farewell
Real Madrid’s confirmation — which came at 11:53 a.m. local time, just under seven hours before kickoff — that Benzema would be leaving the club this summer meant that there was only one name on the lips of those who filled the Santiago Bernabeu for this last game of the LaLiga season. There was a huge cheer when Benzema’s name was read out over the stadium speakers before kickoff, and with the fans desperate to see him score one more time, there was excitement whenever the forward got anywhere near the ball in a dangerous position. But that didn’t happen too often.
Benzema is unquestionably one of the greatest players in Real Madrid’s history. Only one player — Cristiano Ronaldo — has scored more than his 354 goals. No player has won more than his 25 trophies. And of course, we’re talking about the reigning Ballon d’Or winner. It’s also true that this has been an underwhelming season, given the levels he reached last year.
This performance was representative of how he’s played, close to what he was, but not quite there. Still, though, the goals have come. His penalty here made it 19 in LaLiga this season, and meant that when he was taken off, there were no regrets, just the applause of a crowd who knew they’d witnessed a historic moment.