Real Madrid’s departing great Karim Benzema struck from the penalty spot to earn his side a 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday in La Liga as he said goodbye to fans at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Benzema, whom Madrid confirmed would leave this summer earlier in the day, departing after 14 years at the club, rolled his penalty down the middle to level the game, before being substituted to great applause.
The draw ensured Real Madrid would finish above city rivals Atletico Madrid in second place, after Diego Simeone’s side tied 2-2 at Villarreal on the final day.
“I spoke with him this morning and he told me he was going. He’s taken the decision and I told him I respect it completely,” said Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Ancelotti said Benzema’s choice came by surprise, after the Italian himself said Saturday he expected the forward to stay.
“I have coached one of the best in the world, not a forward, a complete footballer,” continued the coach.
“A very friendly, humble, serious person. We can’t be happy he is going, but we have to respect his decision. What he has done at this club is legendary and unforgettable.”
Benzema, who has won five Champions League titles and La Liga on four occasions, seems to be set to play in Saudi Arabia, where former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo has moved.
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