Benzema scores in final game with Madrid; Vinícius Júnior back in team after racial abuse

Karim Benzema converted his penalty kick and received a standing ovation from fans before being substituted at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

Tales Azzoni
Sunday 04 June 2023 20:28 BST

Karim Benzema converted his penalty kick and received a standing ovation from fans before being substituted at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, putting an end to his memorable career with Real Madrid on Sunday.

Benzema was replaced after scoring the 72nd-minute equalizer in Madrid's 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao in his final game with the Spanish powerhouse after 14 seasons. Madrid had announced earlier Sunday that the French striker would not return next season.

The last round of the Spanish league also marked Vinícius Júnior's return to action for the first time since he was racially abused in a league match against Valencia two weeks ago.

Vinícius hadn’t played in the last two Madrid games following the latest incident of racist insults targeted at him in Valencia on May 21, prompting a widespread reaction from Spanish authorities and the soccer world. The club had said he was sidelined with a minor knee problem.

The Brazil forward wasn't able to score, having a 79th-minute goal disallowed for offside.

Benzema did find the net in his farewell match.

He fired in a low shot from the spot, then celebrated by sending kisses to the crowd at the Bernabeu. He was immediately substituted by coach Carlo Ancelotti, receiving a big ovation from the fans.

After the match, Madrid players threw Benzema up in the air a few times, as they did for the other players not returning next season — Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard and Mariano Díaz.

Still wearing the captain's armband, Benzema went near the stands and applauded the fans.

The result allowed Madrid to finish in second place ahead of Atletico Madrid, which drew 2-2 at Villarreal after conceding a stoppage-time equalizer.

“It was a pleasure to play with him,” Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said of Benzema. “He is an excellent player, a legend. It's a pity that he is leaving but we understand that he has the right to choose his destiny.”

Benzema's farewell came amid reports he will play in Saudi Arabia next season.

The 35-year-old striker has been with Madrid since 2009. He helped the club win a record 25 titles, including five Champions Leagues, five Club World Cups and four Spanish leagues.

Benzema ended his career with Madrid with 354 goals — the second-most all-time — and 648 appearances, which is the fifth-most all-time.


In the fight for the final European place still available, Osasuna beat Girona 2-1 at home to finish seventh and grab a Europa Conference League spot.

Bilbao ended in eighth place, two points behind Osasuna. Mallorca won 3-0 against Rayo Vallecano to finish ninth, three points behind Osasuna.


Six teams — Valladolid, Celta Vigo, Almeria, Valencia, Getafe and Cadiz — will try to avoid relegation in the matches being played later Sunday.


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