The striker had yet to score or assist since his return to the France national team before breaking through on Wednesday
Karim Benzema has admitted he was starting to feel the pressure of a goal drought before his double for France against Portugal in a 2-2 Euro 2020 group stage draw on Wednesday.
The striker had not scored or assisted in his first four matches back with Les Bleus since returning from exile, but he struck from the spot just before half-time against Portugal and then again from open play just after the break to end his dry spell. His double brought “much joy and pride” as he met the high expectations of his country.
France will play Switzerland in the last 16 after finishing first in Group F.
What has been said?
“How did I feel after my goal? “[I felt] much joy and pride after scoring,” Benzema said on beIN Sports. “Everyone was waiting for it. There was that pressure on me, but I’m a football player, a professional and I feed off of that.
“It’s nice to score, and in addition we are qualified. I wanted to score in this team because I know that goals are very important in this competition.”
He added to TF1: “I never doubted myself, but I knew there were expectations of me from the country. I managed to score and I’m going to savour it with everybody.”
Benzema’s scoreless streak
Largely because of his time pushed out of the national team, Benzema had gone five years and 258 days between goals for Les Bleus, the longest gap between two goals since manager Didier Deschamps (seven years).
At 33 years old, Benzema also became the oldest player ever to score more than once in a major tournament match for France, overtaking Zinedine Zidane for that distinction.
Deschamps looks ahead
“We finish first, we know what awaits us now,” Deschamps told TF1. “And a new competition begins.
“We will now recover well and we will prepare [for Switzerland] as best as possible.”
On Benzema, the manager said: “It is a pleasure for Karim. He was looking for that, he has not lost his confidence, nor mine. So much the better that he was there this evening.