Real Madrid boss Zinedeine Zidane paid tribute to Brazilian teenager Rodrygo, labelled the “new Neymar” after his sensational hat-trick in the 6-0 Champions League win over Galatasaray.
The 18-year-old became the second youngest player to score a Champions League treble, behind only Real legend Raul, and he did it perfectly, finishing with his left foot, his right foot, and a header.
The former Santos striker scored twice within the opening seven minutes at the Bernabeu Stadium – the fastest two goals in Champions League history – and completed his treble in stoppage time to cap a breathtaking evening’s work as the Spanish fans chanted his name.
Outside of South America, little was known about the 5ft 9in youngster – who is the the same height as Neymar – before his summer switch to Real. Since then, Rodrygo has scored five times in his first six appearances for the club in all competitions.
“Hearing the Bernabeu singing my name is a dream come true,” Rodrygo said. “I’m so happy, it has been a joyous night but I must try and stay calm.”
Zidine said: “We are happy for him because in the end when he gets the chance to play he plays well, and he did so again tonight.
“He plays well in every sense. We know his qualities in attack well, but he also works hard in defence and helps out with a lot. But we need to keep calm and not put any pressure on him.
“He doesn’t surprise me. He has a bit of everything. He is intelligent, he learns very fast and wants to learn and improve. Physically he has to get better but technically, he knows how to do everything with the ball.
“He is a first team player. We know exactly what we’re doing with him.”
After scoring the fastest ever league goal by a Real debutant in September – a sumptuous control and finish after 94 seconds – he now has his name etched into the European record books too.
Rodrygo needed just four minutes to fire his side in front, with his left foot, and he helped himself to a second just three minutes later with a fine header, full-back Marcelo providing the ammunition on both occasions as Galatasaray were picked off repeatedly at the back.
Their fortunes took a further turn for the worse when, having been invited to review Steve Nzonzi’s challenge on Toni Kroos on the edge of the box by the video assistant referee, German match official Felix Zwayer pointed to the spot.
Ramos resisted the temptation to allow Rodrygo to complete a quick-fire hat-trick, dinking the resulting penalty over keeper Fernando Muslera to make it 3-0.
The Brazilian teenager turned provider on the stroke of half-time, capitalising on yet another error by the Galatasaray rearguard to hand Benzema the simplest of chances to make it 4-0.
Benzema passed up two opportunities to add to his tally as time ran down, but he made no mistake when he tapped home Dani Carvajal’s 81st-minute cross from point-blank range to complete a personal half-century before Rodrygo completed the rout from the Frenchman’s through-ball with his right foot.
Benzema made his own piece of history by equalling and then surpassing Alfred di Stefano’s 49 European Cup goals but the way he hoisted Rodrygo to celebrate suggested he knew this was the teenager’s night.