Karim Benzema endured a misfortune during Al-Ittihad’s AFC Champions League round of 16 clash with Navbahor Namangan at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium on Thursday.
Starting his second consecutive game of the year, the 36-year-old faced a nightmarish beginning to the crucial match in Jeddah.
In the 25th minute, Benzema inadvertently scored an own goal, giving the Uzbekistan club the lead.
The unfortunate incident occurred when a freekick was delivered into Ittihad’s box. Despite being on defensive duties, the Frenchman unintentionally headed the ball into his own net.
The own goal provided the visitors with an undeserved advantage, as the Tigers had dominated much of the game in their pursuit of an opening goal, only for Benzema to inadvertently break the deadlock at the wrong end.
Karim Benzema reportedly walked out of an Al-Ittihad training session after refusing to follow his manager’s orders.
Marcelo Gallardo had ordered the Frenchman to train alone but the striker refused and stormed out and, as a result, has been left out of the squad to take on Al-Tai in Wednesday night’s Saudi Pro League clash. Benzema was pictured training at the club’s facilities on Tuesday, but only with the injured players.
Benzema’s relationship with his employers has broken down in recent weeks with the forward failing to return to training on time – later reporting 17 days late, leaving the club ‘furious’, reports Marca.
One source stated that Al-Ittihad couldn’t even establish contact with their player for 10 days whilst he enjoyed a holiday in Mauritius. He was later excluded from the club’s training camp after failing to impress Gallardo. The club’s hierarchy held crunch talks with Benzema just months after he joined from Real Madrid.
There was talk of the Ballon d’Or winner being moved on, potentially to a different Saudi outfit, but he ended up staying put. Benzema penned a lucrative deal back in the summer, which earns him an annual sum of £86million as the league’s chiefs look to improve their domestic scene.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea were among those linked with a move in January when it looked as if he could cut short his time in Saudi. A rumoured move to Lyon in his native France also fell through.
Benzema reportedly remains unsettled in Saudi and he could yet seek a move back to Europe. Already Jordan Henderson has decided to quit the Middle Eastern league after terminating his deal, which freed him up to join Ajax.
Real Madrid icon Karim Benzema will NOT be making a move to the Premier League after deciding to stay in Saudi Arabia.
According to The Athletic, he will stay with Al-Ittihad and honour his contract with the club. Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United were all previously credited with an interest in the French forward.
Speaking previously about a move, he said: “It’s completely false! The French media don’t know what to invent any more. The bigger the better.”
Theo Hernandez scored a superb 90th-minute winner as France hit back from 2-0 down to stun Belgium and reach the Nations League final.
AC Milan’s Theo Hernandez was in the starting XI with Lucas, the first brothers to start for France in over 90 years.
Didier Deschamps’ side looked out of contention at the break after conceding two goals in the space of four minutes, but a thrilling second-half fightback set up a meeting with Spain.
Just four minutes in, Hugo Lloris had to make a truly extraordinary reaction save on Kevin De Bruyne’s deflected strike from nine yards.
After a few dangerous Kylian Mbappé counter-attacks, Belgium began to take control and Yannick Carrasco saw his low drive take a slight deflection into the near bottom corner. France felt that there was a foul in the build-up, but VAR and the referee waved play on.
The Red Devils doubled their lead with ex-Inter hitman Romelu Lukaku, who burst away from Lucas Hernandez down the right and hit an extraordinary strike from the tightest of angles into the roof of the net with his right boot. Once again, Lloris could have done better.
France began to get back into it after the break, but Antoine Griezmann prodded wide from six yards on an Mbappé roll across from the right. The goal had been coming and it arrived when Mbappé rolled across, Karim Benzema gathered with his back to goal, turned on the spot to drill in from 12 yards.
Belgium had fallen asleep in this second half and were penalised when Youri Tielemans went through the back of Griezmann for a penalty, which Mbappé converted with pure power and precision into the top corner.
This woke the Belgians up and Lloris flew to fingertip a De Bruyne rocket over the bar, while Thibaut Courtois parried Paul Pogba’s strike and Mbappé fired wide after a give-and-go with Benzema.
Moments after that miss, Belgium had the ball in the net with Lukaku, but he was marginally offside on the Carrasco cross from the left.
A few minutes after that, with extra time looming, Pogba’s splendid free kick bounced off the crossbar.
Mere seconds later, France did complete the turnaround with Milan star Theo Hernandez, who was ready on the rebound on a poor Toby Alderweireld clearance and smashed it left-footed into the far bottom corner from just inside the box.