Real Madrid fans started the evening by applauding Kylian Mbappé and ended it by cheering Karim Benzema and celebrating another epic Champions League night at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
Benzema responded to another goal by Mbappé by scoring a hat trick in less than 20 minutes in the second half Wednesday as Madrid came from behind to defeat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 and advance to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
It was yet another frustrating result in Europe for PSG, which won the first leg 1-0 and doubled its advantage through Mbappé in the first half but again failed to live up to the massive expectations after adding Lionel Messi to its star-studded team this season.
“It turned out to be a spectacular night for us,” Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “It was a difficult match and it got even more complicated after their first goal. We suffered a lot. But after we scored the atmosphere in the stadium changed and the fans began to push us again and the players began to believe that they could finish the comeback.”
Mbappé opened the scoring in the 39th minute to increase PSG’s aggregate lead after the France striker also netted in stoppage time to secure the first-leg win in Paris.
Mbappé has been widely linked with a move to Madrid after his contract expires at the end of the season and was cheered by part of the Madrid fans when his name was announced in the PSG lineup before the match. His family was also at the Bernabeu.
But when it was all over the ovation was for Madrid and Benzema, who at 34 years, 80 days became the oldest player to score a Champions League hat trick. He surpassed Olivier Giroud, who was 34 years, 63 days when he hit a treble for Chelsea at Sevilla in 2020.
Benzema also reached 309 goals with Madrid to surpass Alfredo Di Stefano for third place on the club’s all-time scoring list, and 67 in the Champions League to surpass Raul Gonzalez’s 66 with the club and become second-best to Cristiano Ronaldo.
“We needed the fans and they were behind us until the end,” Benzema said. “This victory is for them.”
More than 60,000 were on hand for the biggest crowd at the Bernabeu since the coronavirus pandemic started. The stadium, which remains under renovation, remained packed several minutes after the final whistle as players stayed on the field celebrating with the fans.
Benzema’s third Champions League hat trick started in the 61st after a blunder by PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. He then scored again in the 76th and 78th minutes to give the 13-time European champions a 3-2 aggregate win. Madrid reached the last eight for the second straight season after consecutive eliminations in the round of 16.
PSG, seeking its first Champions League title, had advanced past the round of 16 the last two seasons, losing the final to Bayern Munich in 2020 and being eliminated by Manchester City in the semi-finals in 2021.
In the other last-16 match on Wednesday, Manchester City advanced past Sporting Lisbon 5-0 on aggregate after a 0-0 draw in England.
With Manchester City’s progress to the Champions League quarter-finals never in doubt, even backup goalkeeper Scott Carson could be brought off the bench for his first appearance in the competition in 17 years.
The 36-year-old third-choice goalkeeper replaced Ederson in the 73rd minute and maintained a clean sheet as City drew 0-0 with Sporting on Wednesday, having won 5-0 in the first leg in Lisbon last month.