Karim Benzema was in a confident mood after scoring a brace that helped keep Real Madrid alive in their Champions League last-four tie against Manchester City and the French striker predicted his team would now qualify for the final.
Real trailed by two goals three times in the semifinal first leg at the Etihad stadium on Tuesday but fought back to lose by a solitary goal in a 4-3 thriller.
“I warn our fans to be ready to see something magical, we will win the second leg at Santiago Bernabeu,” Benzema told Movistar Plus.
“Losing is never good and we care a lot about winning the Champions League this season. The thing is we never lowered our guard and kept fighting until the end.”
Benzema had steered home an expert finish in the first half and showed he had ice in his veins when the Spanish side were awarded a penalty in the final minutes of the game.
The striker, who had missed twice from the spot at Osasuna last week, chipped his effort cheekily down the middle.
“I am a very confident man,” Benzema said with a smile.
“This is the highest level and we were playing against a great team and at their stadium. We fell 2-0 down but were mentally strong to fight back.”
Real coach Carlo Ancelotti never doubted his captain would score, but was critical of the mistakes his team made.
“We have to defend better,” Ancelotti said.
“It was not a good result because they scored four goals against us, this is never good. It means we didn’t defend well and we need to do a better job in the second leg. I believe it will be the key.”
The Italian also feels home advantage will prove crucial in the return leg.
“We are very confident and excited because we believe in the magic of Bernabeu,” he added.
Real’s confidence is running high after they reached the semifinals with wins over Paris St Germain and holders Chelsea and Ancelotti said he was proud of how his team was had been able to generate chances and hurt City at their own ground.
Vinicius Jr, who scored a magnificent individual goal, said Madrid’s fans would need to get behind them for the return encounter “like never before”.
The young Brazilian striker was also lost for words about Benzema’s performance, and said the Frenchman deserved to be crowned the best player in the world.
“I can’t explain how good he is,” Vinicius said.
“He is my mentor and inspiration, helps me so much and I hope he ends the season with three titles: LaLiga, Champions League and Ballon d’Or.” -©Reuters