Zidane: Benzema always been crucial for Real Madrid, it's people's perception that changed

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The France star netted twice against Eibar to seal three points and the coach feels he is having another excellent season

Zinedine Zidane insisted Karim Benzema has always been a "hugely important player" for Real Madrid after his two-goal haul.

Benzema – wearing the captain's armband – maintained his fine form for the Spanish and European giants with a double as he helped rescue a 2-1 win over Eibar at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Madrid trailed at half-time but Benzema netted a towering header to restore parity approaching the hour-mark before the 31-year-old repeated the feat with nine minutes remaining.

Benzema – who arrived from Lyon in 2009 – has scored 17 La Liga goals this season and four in his past three league games, earning praise from Zidane.

"He's always been crucial for the team," Zidane said of his French compatriot. "He's scoring more goals now but he's always been a hugely important player. I want to speak about the team.

"Karim knows very well that the team has been vital for him too and I want to stress just that.
"I'm delighted for Karim. But every player has reacted well, played for pride and looked to win the game.

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"Karim is having a great season and he's scoring a lot of goals. People's perception of him has changed as a result, but he's always been a crucial player."

Benzema, who only managed five La Liga goals last season, has scored 26 goals in all competitions this term.

Madrid – already out of the Champions League and Copa del Rey – are third and 13 points behind leaders Barcelona.