95th minute. Valencia 1 Real Madrid 0. The game was already lost for the Los Blancos until the visitors won a corner. The ball came flying into the centre from the corner. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who came up to aid his team in search for an equalizer, headed a corner goalwards. Jaume Domenech saved the attempt but after a defensive scramble, the ball fell his way and Benzema did not wait – thrashed the ball into the roof of the net to draw Real Madrid level: level on points with Barcelona.

It was the French striker, whose impact had always been overshadowed by the charisma of Cristiano Ronaldo and whose silly-misses hit got noticed more than his goals skills, saved the night for Real Madrid. Since Cristiano left, Benzema seems to have become the saviour of Los Blancos. This season, he is contesting for a  Pichichi with Lionel Messi. Last week he took the advantage only for Messi to take the lead with a hat-trick. This week Messi went scoreless in San Sebastian, giving Benzema a chance to put level on 12 goals after scoring against Valencia. Again, Benzema was the scorer at Mestalla last year as well when Valencia beat Real Madrid.

Mestalla is a tough place to play. Valencia are a sturdy unit. Their defence is rock-solid and to overcome their stubbornness has always proved tough for the best in Europe. A few days back, Ajax experienced how stubborn Valencia defence can get and since Valencia registered a place in the knockout stages of Champions League, their confidence has gone high. For Real Madrid, the contest would always be a stifling one. Not to forget, Valencia are one those sides in Europe, who pick their game up against Los Blancos.

Real Madrid started better than the hosts, but the organized defensive-block of Valencia dented Real’s fluidity. They could hardly create any clear cut chances. Valencia sat deep: Luka Modric, Isco, Rodrygo Goes and Benzema tried to exploit the half-spaces, whereas, Toni Kroos and Fede Valverde reached the top when Valencia markers left spaces while marking down the forwards. Toni Kroos was the boss in the midfield – his passing accuracy was as usual top-notch and there were two difficult passes, which broke the Valencia-press.

Rodrygo Goes and Isco interchanged positions to utilize the spaces. Especially, Rodrygo was proving good in defensive sequences and in the meantime, Benzema dropped to midfield to dispossess Valencia. Benzema moved supremely between the lines, he started plays, he linked with team-mates and looked determined to shine brightly.

But nothing was happening. Valencia kept the visitors at bay and with each passing minute, their backline continued to test Real’s highline. Madrid advanced, which left the backline free and put pressure on the pivots too. Spaces were created and Valencia broke through: Daniel Wass discovered Carlos Soler who put the hosts ahead with just over 10 minutes remaining.

But thankfully, Benzema stepped up to secure a draw for Los Blancos. Under trying circumstances, Benzema is proving to be the Sergio Ramos for Real Madrid. The French man is blessed with a never say die spirit.  According to AS, “His goals have been decisive and given Madrid a total of eight points: he scored the equaliser in the 1-1 draw against Valladolid, he was on target in the 1-0 win over Sevilla at the Pizjuán, he scored a brace in the 3-2 victory over Levante and yesterday his goal saved a vital point against Valencia”.

Benzema’s goal came at 94 minutes and 28 seconds. Madrid have not rescued points at such a late stage since Cristiano’s goal at 95 minutes and 28 seconds against Elche six and a half years ago.

“I want to win this league title and, if I can help my teammates with play and with words, I will do it. I’m the third captain and I have to help”, Benzema said. He is confident than before and the Real Madrid think-tank did the right thing to unchain Benzema: freedom has brought the best out from French striker and who else but Real Madrid are the biggest beneficiary.

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