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.
"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.
"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.