The Impact of Nuno Espírito Santo’s Dismissal on Karim Benzema
The recent dismissal of Nuno Espírito Santo as coach has had a positive effect on Karim Benzema’s performance. The team captain appeared more relaxed in attack and took charge of leading the team to victory with a remarkable hat-trick and a brilliant assist. This display of skill and teamwork reminded everyone why Al Ittihad had won the Saudi Pro League. The decision to change coaches by Al Ittihad came just 24 hours after Nuno criticized Benzema, labeling him as “lazy.” This criticism, combined with poor results, became the final straw that led to Nuno’s termination in Jeddah. Hassan Khalifa took over as interim coach and implemented a successful 4-3-3 formation, with Fabinho as the anchor, Kanté as a versatile midfielder, and the partnership of Benzema and Coronado proving to be highly effective.
A Fierce Battle on the Field
The match started with Al Ittihad displaying their attacking prowess, creating three dangerous opportunities within the first five minutes. Crowned had the first chance at just 12 seconds, followed by Benzema’s high shot at 3 minutes, and a powerful strike from Romarinho that hit the crossbar. Unfortunately, Romarinho sustained an injury at the 11-minute mark and was substituted by Al Sahafi. The intensity of the game increased as both teams fought for victory. Al Ittihad aimed to prevent Al Hilal from reaching 14 points, while Abha sought to avoid relegation. The visitors showed great determination and came close to scoring with chances from Kamano and Noguera, putting pressure on Grohe, Al Ittihad’s goalkeeper.
Benzema’s Impact in Attack
Al Ittihad’s attacking force became even stronger with the presence of Benzema. After 30 minutes of play, the Ballon d’Or winner was fouled inside the penalty area by Krychowiak, Noguera, and Natiq, who provided him with an excellent pass. Initially, the referee, Kevin Ortega, hesitated to award a penalty but, upon reviewing the VAR footage, he changed his decision and signaled for a penalty kick. Benzema confidently converted the penalty, putting Al Ittihad in the lead. He had the opportunity to score two more goals before halftime but saved them for the second half.
A Spectacular Display of Skill
The halftime break seemed to rejuvenate the Abha players, as they quickly equalized with a goal from Toko Ekambi. However, their joy was short-lived as Benzema showcased his exceptional skills by providing a stunning assist to Coronado. With a semi-roulette move, Benzema set up Coronado to score Al Ittihad’s second goal. This act of generosity was reciprocated by Coronado, who assisted Benzema in scoring two more goals within three minutes. The Frenchman’s hunger for goals was evident as he completed his hat-trick with ease. Jumayah managed to score a goal for Abha, but it was not enough to change the outcome of the game. Al Ittihad celebrated a resounding victory, with Benzema shining brightly in the absence of Nuno on the bench.
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