EURO 2020

Karim Benzema Admits He Felt Under Pressure Before Scoring Brace Against Portugal

Karim Benzema scored a double in France's 2-2 draw with Portugal
Karim Benzema scored a double in France's 2-2 draw with Portugal / Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Karim Benzema has admitted he felt under pressure following his goal drought for France before scoring a brace against Portugal on Wednesday.

Benzema returned to the national team after four years, but failed to replicate his Real Madrid form for Les Bleus, failing to score or assist in his first four games. But the striker found his shooting boots in France's final Euro 2020 group stage game, and scored on either side of half-time to end his dry spell.

Speaking after the game, Benzema admitted his goals were a relief and brought "much pride and joy". He said: "[I felt] much joy and pride after scoring. Everyone was waiting for it. There was that pressure on me, but I'm a football player, a professional and I feed off of that.

"It's nice to score, and in addition we are qualified. I wanted to score in this team because I know that goals are very important in this competition."

He added: "I never doubted myself, but I knew there were expectations of me from the country. I managed to score and I’m going to savour it with everybody."

Benzema also became the oldest player (33) to score more than once in a major international tournament for France, overtaking Zinedine Zidane. France boss Didier Deschamps praised his side for their performance and said they were looking forward to facing Switzerland in the last 16.

"We finish first, we know what awaits us now," Deschamps told TF1. "And a new competition begins. "We will now recover well and we will prepare [for Switzerland] as best as possible."

On Benzema, the manager said: "It is a pleasure for Karim. He was looking for that, he has not lost his confidence, nor mine. So much the better that he was there this evening.