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Champions League top scorers in one season amid Karim Benzema form

Manchester City beat Real Madrid 4-3 in the Champions League semi-final first leg, but it was Karim Benzema who grabbed the headlines.

It was a pulsating encounter at the Etihad between two of Europe’s biggest clubs and the tie is finely poised ahead of next week’s return leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Pep Guardiola’s side could have put the tie to bed with the number of chances they had, but with Benzema in the form of his life, Los Blancos always stand a chance.

Despite missing three of his last four penalties, the Frenchman had the audacity and confidence to pull off a Panenka while his side were 4-2 down away at City in a Champions League semi-final first leg.

Manchester City v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League
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Benzema’s brace against the Citizens meant that only Cristiano Ronaldo (13) has scored more goals in the semi-finals of the Champions League than Madrid’s number nine (7). The former Lyon man leapfrogged Lionel Messi (6).

But with potentially two more Champions League games to be played this season, Benzema could have more Champions League records in his sights.

His two goals against the reigning Premier League champions moved him onto 14 Champions League goals this season, but where does that put him in regard to the competition’s top scorers in a single campaign…

Ruud van Nistelrooy

Van Nistelrooy of Man United celebrates scoring
Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images

The prolific Dutchman was the competitions top scorer in 2001/02 campaign with 10 goals, but the following season Manchester United’s number 10 went up another level.

Van Nistelrooy scored 12 goals from nine games in 2002/03 and would have likely scored more had the Red Devils not been knocked out against Real Madrid in the quarter-finals 6-5 on aggregate.

Benzema’s two goals at the Etihad saw him surpass Van Nistelrooy, who will take over as PSV Eindhoven boss at the end of the season and scored in every Champions League in 2002/03.

Lionel Messi

Soccer - UEFA Champions League Rounf of 16 - Bayer Leverkusen vs. FC Barcelona
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The Argentine legend was the Champions League’s top scorer for four consecutive seasons from 2008 to 2012.

In the last two seasons of Messi’s run during that four-year period the Barcelona legend scored 12 goals in 2010/11 and 14 goals in 2011/12.

During that time, the Nou Camp side won two Champions League titles against Manchester United under the tutelage of Guardiola with Messi scoring in both finals.

Messi couldn’t inspire Paris Saint Germain to glory on the continent this season and he currently sits 15 goals behind Ronaldo in the quest to be the competition’s all time top scorer.

The 34-year-old did score 12 goals in the 2018-19 campaign, but Benzema has now matched Messi’s best goalscoring Champions League return.

Robert Lewandowski

Crvena Zvezda v Bayern Muenchen: Group B - UEFA Champions League
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Benzema’s brace against Manchester City moved him up onto 85 Champions League goals, which is one less than Bayern Munich’s clinical finisher Lewandowski.

The Pole scored 15 goals in the 2019/20 campaign which the Bavarian giants won the competition. The 33-year-old scored in every game apart from the final against Paris Saint Germain.

Benzema needs one more goal this season to match Lewandowski’s record from two seasons ago.

Cristiano Ronaldo

SOCCER : UEFA Champions League - FINAL 2014 - Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid
Photo by AMA/Corbis via Getty Images

Benzema is going to have to reproduce more heroics if he is to match or surpass his former teammate’s record.

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 15 or more goals in a Champions League campaign on three occasions throughout his career.

The 37-year-old’s best goalscoring campaign came in 2013/14 when he scored a staggering 17 goals and helped Real Madrid win their first of four Champions League triumphs across five years.

In 2015/16, the iconic number seven scored 16 goals and in 2017/18, Ronaldo scored 15 goals. The great Portuguese remains out on his own as the competition’s all time appearance maker (183) and goalscorer (140).

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