Benzema earns Real praise

Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka has sung the praises of in-form striker Karim Benzema.

Benzema’s goal in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey first-leg clash with Sevilla handed his side a 1-0 lead to take into next week’s second leg at the Bernabeu.

After struggling to cement a place in the starting line-up for much of the season, the 23-year-old Frenchman is starting to have an impact for Jose Mourinho’s side, also scoring the winner in their last La Liga match – a 1-0 win over Mallorca.

“Karim looked good from the start, and when the manager has spoken about him it has spurred him on,” Karanka said.

“Karim scored and went over to the manager, so I think that shows the affection that we have for him. We’ve said a thousand times that he is an important player.”

“A first leg is always difficult. It’s a game that could have been 0-2 or 0-3 -or maybe 1-1 with the chance that they had at the end. It’s a good result, but not definitive by any means.”

“I think that the fans in the Bernabeu will be supportive next Wednesday. It’s a positive result, but it’s not over by any means.”

Sevilla boss Gregorio Manzano, meanwhile, thinks his side were unlucky to lose the tie and believes Luis Fabiano’s shot was over the line before it was cleared by Real defender Raul Albiol.

Although replays were inconclusive, Manzano is adamant Fabiano should have been credited with the goal.

“In my view, football-wise my team were unlucky to lose,” Manzano said.

“I think that we made a great effort and had a great attitude, and we fought back well when we conceded a goal against a great team like Real Madrid.”

“However much it will be debated tonight and tomorrow, it was a goal. It’s a difficult move that was hard for the linesman to judge, but we had a similar situation at home against Almeria, and that was a goal. “

“There is still a second leg to play, and we have to think that we can play the same in Madrid as we did here.”