Mo Salah and Karim Benzema make mockery of Ballon d’Or rankings

Posted by News Express | 3 December 2021 | 765 times

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•Mohamed Salah

 

If Mohamed Salah and Karim Benzema felt wronged by their Ballon d'Or rankings, then the pair began their revenge arcs in the most emphatic way possible on Wednesday.

Top scorers in the Premier League and La Liga this season, the pair have dazzled throughout 2021, yet neither made the podium for football's premium individual accolade on Monday -- won for the seventh time by Lionel Messi. Benzema was pipped to third spot by Chelsea's Jorginho, while Salah finished seventh.

The perceived injustice of Salah's finish was exacerbated by its implication that he was only the fourth best performing Premier League player throughout the calendar year -- Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo and Chelsea's N'Golo Kante joining Jorginho in placing above the Egyptian.

Not that Liverpool fans will be overly bothered, as Salah decisively exorcised any frustrations on the most hostile of stages -- away at Everton in the Merseyside Derby.

 

Derby delight

 

The Egyptian forward was at his scintillating best at Goodison Park, firing a brace as Liverpool dismantled their archrivals 4-1 to maintain a two-point gap from league leaders Chelsea.

Having given the away side the lead with a sweeping finish inside 10 minutes, captain Jordan Henderson soon had an assist to his name as his pass sent Salah racing through down the right midway through the first half. One touch to set himself, the second to clip it around Jordan Pickford and into the far corner -- the finish was vintage Salah.

Everton pulled one back through Demarai Gray, but Salah restored Liverpool's cushion after the restart. Pouncing on Seamus Coleman's loose touch on the halfway line, the Egyptian sped towards goal before sliding the ball into the far corner.

Diogo Jota completed the rout with just over 10 minutes remaining, but the headlines once again belonged to Salah as he races towards a seemingly inevitable fourth 20+ goal league campaign in just five seasons at Liverpool.

Salah's brace took his tally to a league-high 13 goals in just 14 appearances, four clear of his nearest contender in Leicester's Jamie Vardy. Just for good measure, Salah also leads in Premier League assists this season with eight.

In his pre-match press conference, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted he was "surprised" at Salah's placing, saying that the winger "should have been higher up, definitely."

Asked for his reaction on his Ballon d'Or finish after the match, Salah's own response was to burst out laughing and shake his head.

"I have no comment!" he told Amazon Prime Video.

 

'The show must go on'

Benzema followed suit in responding to any perceived injustice with a match-winning performance -- firing the only goal of the game to defeat Athletic Bilbao and extend Real Madrid's lead atop La Liga.

The Frenchman tweeted in the wake of the Ballon d'Or awards that "the show must go on" and stayed true to his word, turning home Luka Modric's pass just before half-time for his league-high 12th goal of the campaign.

Like Salah, he also tops the league in assists with seven and, at 33, seems to be getting better with age. Benzema's 35 goals in 46 games in 2021 has already equaled his best calendar year tally for Real in 2019, and he still has four matches remaining to set a new personal best.

His scintillating form has been reflected in the performance of the team as a whole -- Wednesday night's victory made it seven consecutive wins in all competitions for Carlo Ancelotti's side and opened up a seven point lead in La Liga, though local rivals Atlético Madrid have a game in hand.

Should he and Salah continue at their current pace, their biggest obstacle to 2022 Ballon d'Or glory may well be each other.

 

(Courtesy CNN)

 


Source: News Express

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