Casemiro has hailed the backheel assist from Karim Benzema that gave Real Madrid a 1-0 win at Espanyol as “incredible” while Zinedine Zidane believes it was even better than two similar, famous efforts from former playmaker Guti.
Madrid’s victory at the RCDE Stadium on Sunday night put them two points clear of rivals Barcelona at the top of the La Liga table with six games left to play.
“It would be a bit unfair to talk about my goal after what Karim did. We have to congratulate him, it’s a top-class backheel,” Casemiro said. “Knowing Karim, it’s normal. He has the quality of a No. 10, not a No. 9. It’s an incredible backheel. It’s Karim’s goal.”
Benzema downplayed the wonder-assist, inferring that play was second nature to him.
“That’s football. These things come to me, I see football like that,” Benzema told Movistar. “I knew Casemiro was going to make the run behind me. He took it well.”
The French striker now has 17 goals and seven assists in La Liga this season.
“It’s a really important win,” he added. “I can’t say we don’t look at Barcelona, we do, of course, but we’re focused. Each game is a final.”
In his post-match news conference, coach Zidane was asked to compare the goal with two others in Real Madrid’s recent history — when Guti backheeled to Benzema when through on goal against Deportivo La Coruna in 2010, and when the same player split the Sevilla defence for Zidane himself to score in 2006.
“I think this one [is the best], Karim’s,” Zidane said. “It’s the most recent one. The good thing is it’s a team move, Sergio with his head, Karim’s control and backheel, and then Casemiro knows that Karim can invent something. It’s a beautiful team goal.
“We know Karim is an impressive player and he shows it in every game … A player improves all the time and that’s what’s happening with Karim. He’s at a good age, at around 32 or 33 if you look after yourself as he does, they’re your best years of football.”
Zidane denied that Real Madrid’s two-point lead means they now have the edge over Barcelona.
“This will be decided at the end of the season,” he said. “I always think about the league I won as a coach in 2017. We won it in the last game [a 2-0 win at Malaga]. The same thing will happen here. We’ve happy with five wins in a row but it doesn’t change anything, we’ve got six finals left.”