The 2023 FIFA Club World Cup kicked off in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with Al-Ittihad facing off against OFC Champions League winners, Auckland City FC.
Serving as the curtain-raiser for this prestigious tournament, the atmosphere at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium was electrifying, with a record-breaking crowd of 50,248 spectators for the opening game of any Club World Cup.
The football on display lived up to the hype, as Al-Ittihad wasted little time stating their intent on the night. Goals from Romarinho Silva, Ngolo Kante, and Karim Benzema within the first 30 minutes ensured Marcelo Gallardo’s team had complete control of the encounter.
Despite the match seemingly following a script for a commanding victory for the Saudi Arabian side, the onlooking fans were not disappointed, witnessing the country’s league champions qualify for the last eight of the tournament.
However, amid the intensely dominant display for the Saudi club, there was room for club captain, Benzema to etch his name into Club World Cup history.
Benzema makes Club World Cup history
The 35-year-old forward, who was on hand to finish from close range of an assist from fullback Muhannad Shanqeeti, became the first player in the competition’s storied history to score in four different editions of the tournament according to data courtesy of Madrid Xtra.
Benzema had previously scored one goal in the 2014 edition with Real Madrid, two in the 2016 edition, and one in the 2022 edition with the Spanish club.
Having now accumulated five goals in six different participations in the tournament, Benzema aims to surpass Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal record in the competition. According to FIFA World Cup on social media, the Portuguese star, with a total of seven goals, holds the record for the most goals scored in the competition’s history.
Benzema will be looking to eclipse this record when he leads his side in the quarter-final clash against CAF Champions League winners Al Ahly.