BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Karim Benzema has hit a hat trick to lead Real Madrid to a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league, extending his scoring run since the return of coach Zinedine Zidane.
After not finding the net in Zidane's first game back, Benzema has struck eight times in five matches.
The French striker stands out as the only Madrid player who is playing well in a very disappointing season for the traditional powerhouse. Out of the Champions League, and trailing Spanish leader Barcelona by 13 points in third place, Madrid's players have nothing to play for other than pride.
And a place on the team next season.
Zidane has acknowledged that the club will make changes to its squad in the summer. Benzema was already one of Zidane's favorite players when they won three Champions League titles together before Zidane stepped down last summer— only to come back last month.
********Real Madrid's Karim Benzema heads for the ball to score during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, April 21, 2019.