Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

The cat flashes his claws


Karim Benzema has shrugged off the disparaging label of being Real Madrid’s pussycat and turned himself into a fearsome feline under Jose Mourinho.

In the space of a year, the 24-year-old has gone from expensive bench warmer to first-choice leader of the line at the world’s richest club by revenue, and won over a skeptical coach.

Benzema was a match-winning substitute in Tuesday’s King’s Cup first leg win at home to Malaga, when a weakened side skulked in at halftime trailing 2-0.

The French international helped galvanise his team after the break, tormenting the visitors’ defence with his pace and link-up play and bursting through the middle to grab the comeback winner late on.