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Benzema bent on Old Trafford triumph

Karim Benzema told uefa.com Olympique Lyonnais would "go to Old Trafford to win" in two weeks' time after a late Manchester United FC equaliser last night.

Karim Benzema scored Lyon's goal against United
Karim Benzema scored Lyon's goal against United ©Getty Images

Karim Benzema has vowed that Olympique Lyonnais will "go to Old Trafford to win" in two weeks' time after being denied a first-leg victory against Manchester United FC by Carlos Tévez's late strike at Stade de Gerland on Wednesday.

Benzema belief
The French club were closing in on a memorable victory thanks to Benzema's exceptional 54th-minute strike, but a late rally from the visitors culminated in substitute Tévez firing home from close range three minutes from time. The away goal hands United a slight edge, although Benzema insists Lyon will take confidence from their performance. "United were big favourites but we showed we can compete with them and we'll go to Old Trafford to win," the France striker told uefa.com. "Even if we know it'll be tough, we believe we can do it."

Fighting spirit
Lyon have struggled for form in recent weeks and while they were not at their flamboyant best against United, the togetherness and fighting spirit appeared to have returned. "This performance will give us a lift because we'd dug ourselves into a bit of a hole," Benzema said. "We hadn't really been playing as a team in the past few weeks but we showed we can still be a strong side when we work hard for each other. United are one of the biggest clubs in Europe, yet they are the ones going home feeling happy with a draw."

'Great performance'
Benzema's reputation as one of Europe's hottest young strikers will have been strengthened by another fine display. With Lyon coach Alain Perrin opting for a more defensive line up, the athletic 20-year-old received minimal support from team-mates but still managed to keep the United defenders occupied. "He produced another great performance and scored another important goal," Lyon skipper Juninho Pernambucano enthused.

Juninho praise
The firmly-struck left-footed shot that whizzed past Edwin van der Sar was Benzema's 26th goal of a remarkable season, and Juninho was keen to heap on the praise, saying: "Karim has so much talent. I've been playing with him since he was 17 and he keeps getting better and better. What is great is that he performs in the big matches. Tonight he was under pressure and was being marked very closely, but when he got a sight of goal he made it count. It's the sign of a top player and so long as he keeps his humility he will become one of the very best."

Strength in depth
United centre-back Nemanja Vidić was another to vouch for Benzema's talents, although the Serbian international was equally keen to highlight the contributions of two other young players, Tévez and Nani, who gave the visitors more cutting edge when they came on in the second half. "Lyon have some good players and Benzema caused us some problems," Vidić admitted. "But scoring near the end makes it feel a little bit like a victory. We are capable of finishing games strongly because we have so much strength on the bench and Nani and Tévez made a big difference when they came on."