Copa del Rey: Karim Benzema nets historic El Clasico hat-trick as Real Madrid reach final

Karim Benzema scored a hat-trick for the history books as Real Madrid overturned a first-leg deficit to beat Barcelona 4-0 (4-1 agg) and advance to the Copa del Rey final.

Prior to his goals, though, the Frenchman was instrumental in Real’s first strike. Just before half-time, Benzema’s cut-back found Vinicius Jr, who was able to flick the ball home to level the tie on aggregate.

But the Ballon d’Or winner did not wait for too long after the interval before scoring. Benzema swept the ball in from the edge of the box via a wonderful strike to put Los Blancos ahead. A few minutes later, he tucked away a penalty to grab his second and Real’s third.

Karim Benzema then completed his hat-trick with ten minutes left to play. Vinicius Jr, who had wreaked havoc on the Barca defence all night, found his attack partner in a pocket of space to put Benzema in 1-on-1. The Frenchman coolly slotted past Ter Stegen to fire Real to their first Copa del Rey final since 2014.

It was a fantastic, clinical performance from Madrid’s star man when they needed him most. With this treble, Benzema also created some fascinating stats.

Karim Benzema: his hat-trick in El Clasico history

Thanks to his hat-trick, Karim Benzema becomes the first Real Madrid player to score a treble at Camp Nou in 60 years. The last man to achieve this was the legendary Ferenc Puskas. He found the net three times in a 5-1 Los Blancos win at the home of their El Clasico rivals in 1963.

When you think of all the legendary forwards that have been Galacticos, it is staggering to think that it has taken this long for a Real player to net a hat-trick at Barcelona. Anyway, Benzema is the man to break the duck.

Additionally, the Frenchman is the first European El Clasico hat-trick scorer since Gary Lineker. In 1987, whilst playing for Barcelona, Lineker scored thrice in a 3-2 victory at home.

A Real Madrid hat-trick in a competitive El Clasico has also been a long time coming. Prior to Benzema’s exploits on Wednesday night, you had to go back nearly thirty years to find the previous one. This was Ivan Zamorano, who bagged three goals during a 5-0 thrashing of Barca at the Bernabeu in 1995.

Karim Benzema’s stunning performance sees Los Blancos through to a Copa del Rey final. But who will they face in their next quest for domestic silverware?

Athletic Bilbao 1 (1) – (2) 1 Osasuna

Osasuna will be Real’s opponents in the final after a dramatic, extra-time aggregate victory over Athletic Bilbao.

As a result of their progression, Los Rojillos reach only the second Copa del Rey showpiece in their history.

They did this the hard way, though, falling behind on the night. Bilbao, trailing 1-0 from the first leg, relentlessly pressured the visitors in front of their home fans. Inaki Williams got the Basque side even on aggregate with a close-range volley, rewarding Bilbao’s intensity.

Following the interval, Bilbao created numerous opportunities but failed to capitalise on these chances. Nico Williams blazed over from inside the box, then Sergio Herrera foiled an Inigo Martinez effort.

The tie was all-square heading into extra time.

It took until the 116th minute for someone to break the deadlock. And that was Osasuna, who equalised on the night via a sublime volley from Pablo Ibanez. A cross to the edge of the box found the Spaniard, who side-foot volleyed the ball into the bottom corner.

This gave the visitors a 2-1 aggregate lead, which they held until the final whistle to progress.

Osasuna and Real Madrid will face off for the Copa on 6 May.

Featured image credit: Getty