Karim Benzema

Almost exactly five years later, it happened again!

On Wednesday night, Paris Saint-Germain suffered another mind-blowing ‘remontada’, once again dumped out of the Champions League last 16 by a Spanish side from a position of utter dominance.

This time around, the aggregate lead over Real Madrid was just 2-0, rather than the four-goal advantage they arrived in Barcelona with in 2017, but this collapse was almost just as shocking.

Kylian Mbappe had decided the first leg at the Parc des Princes with a superb solo strike just before the full-time whistle and he struck again just before the break at the Santiago Bernabeu to put the Parisians in cruise control.

Indeed, another Mbappe goal appeared a formality, with the 23-year-old running rings around players who could well be his team-mates next season.

He looked to have killed the tie when he slotted home in the second half after an outrageous dummy on Thibaut Courtois, but his slick strike was correctly ruled out for offside.

And yet, by full-time, the only French forward the world was talking about was Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema.

A stunning hat-trick in under 17 minutes, the latter two goals coming in the space of just 106 seconds, turned the tie on its head and ignited the already-rocking Bernabeu.

Benzema’s first goal served to keep the tie alive, a defibrillator to Madrid’s dying hopes, and it was served up on a plate by PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Under pressure from Benzema, the Italy international hesitated and played a suicidal pass across the face of his own goal straight to Vinicius Junior.

The Brazilian – who had a brilliant night himself – teed up his strike partner to slam home.

Thanks to the scrapping of the away goals rule, Madrid knew another goal would force extra-time.

“Yes we can!” chanted Real Madrid fans, who had been buzzing even before kick-off, believing in their club’s seemingly eternal ability to win games that seem lost in this competition.

They certainly drew on the spirit of their 2014 Champions League final win over Atletico Madrid here. Legendary captain Sergio Ramos may be gone, to PSG funnily enough, but his fighting spirit remains a part of Real’s DNA.

And so doubts started creeping in for PSG, their swashbuckling home performance and first-half showing forgotten.

With the doubts came fractures, and then cracks, and Luka Modric gleefully exploited them.

The Croatian midfielder, who is 36 – even though you would never believe it – drove forward from his own half to reach PSG’s area and find Vinicius.

The Brazilian, who seems to have matured five years in half a season, held the ball up, waiting for support.

Modric provided it and the Croatian’s sublime pass found Benzema, who finished clinically.

While Real Madrid’s four Champions League wins in five years might be remembered as a mark of the Cristiano Ronaldo era, if Madrid triumph this season, it will be a success forever associated with Benzema.

PSG’s implosion was completed moments later, with Vinicius’ persistent pressure worrying the French defence and leading captain Marquinhos to make another fatal mistake, passing the ball straight into Benzema’s path.

With a first-time finish, he netted his eighth goal in seven Champions League games and the remontada was complete.

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