Zinedine Zidane praises 'team player' Karim Benzema as Real Madrid advance to Champions League final

Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema (bottom) and Real Madrid's defender Sergio Ramos celebrate their opening goal during the UEFA Champions League s
Image: Karim Benzema produced a moment of brilliance in the build-up to Isco's pivotal strike

Zinedine Zidane sung Karim Benzema's praises after a moment of sublime skill helped Real Madrid reach the Champions League final at the expense of Atletico Madrid.

Benzema managed to dribble past three defenders near the touchline in the build-up to Isco's pivotal strike, which ended Atletico's hope of a comeback in the semi-final second leg, despite the game finishing 2-1 to Atleti at the Vicente Calderon.

Atletico needed to overcome a 3-0 first-leg deficit and appeared on course for a stunning comeback after early goals from Saul and Antoine Griezmann.

But Benzema's magic, which led to Isco's strike before half-time, effectively ended the tie and a 4-2 aggregate success sent Real to a third final in four seasons.

"I didn't know how Benzema managed to come out of the corner," said Real boss Zidane, according to Marca. "I honestly can't remember how many players he left behind.

Isco's goal just before half-time took the sting out of Ateltico Madrid's spirited comeback against Real Madrid
Image: Isco's goal just before half-time took the sting out of Atletico Madrid's spirited comeback against Real Madrid

"Football is not just about who gets the goals, look at what Benzema did. He has a lot of quality and offers more than just goals. He's a team player."

Zidane insisted he was not downhearted by Atletico's superb start, despite the hosts racing to a two-goal lead after 16 minutes.

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The Frenchman told Real's website: "We knew we were going to suffer, especially at the beginning.

Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid celebrates scoring the opening goal against Real Madrid
Image: Saul Niguez gave Atletico hope with an early header

"They started the game very well but we didn't worry because we knew we were going to create chances.

"I'm happy to reach two consecutive finals. It means we are doing well.

"The players are doing phenomenally. They are the ones who run, fight, work, suffer and do their best to get things. We are all happy, but we have not won anything."

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