Madrid rout Plzen, keep thriving under coach Solari

PLZEN, Czech Republic (AP) — Santiago Solari’s chances of staying in charge of Real Madrid keep getting better.

Solari’s resurgent Madrid routed Viktoria Plzen 5-0 in the Champions League early yesterday, winning its third straight match in all competition since the interim coach took over to replace the fired Julen Lopetegui.

Karim Benzema scored twice and Casemiro, Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos also netted for the three-time defending champions, leaving Madrid level on nine points with Roma, which won 2-1 at CSKA Moscow earlier Wednesday in Group G.

“It’s impossible to win 5-0 away in the Champions League and not play a great game,” said Solari, who was only hired on an interim basis but hasn’t been ruled out as a candidate for the permanent job. “I’m very happy, but this was all about the players, it’s their merit.”

Solari said he is only thinking about the next match, not about keeping his position. But players didn’t hide that they are behind the former Madrid player.

Karim Benzema celebrates his goal. – AFP

“Why not?” Benzema said. “We are doing well with him, he should stay until the end of the season. He is a great coach. We are playing with more confidence.”

Madrid and Roma can both seal a place in the knockout stage with one win from their final two games.

Czech champion Viktoria Plzen, playing in the group stage for the first time since 2013, stayed on one point and was eliminated.

Madrid had struggled in a 2-1 win over Viktoria Plzen at home in the team’s second-to-last match under Lopetegui, who was eventually fired after a demoralising 5-1 loss to Barcelona at Camp Nou Stadium.

The Czech hosts started well and almost opened the scoring when Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez deflected a ball onto the crossbar.

Madrid struggled to control the game until Benzema’s superb goal in the 21st minute. The French striker entered the area and cleared three defenders before sending a low shot underneath goalkeeper Ales Hruska.

“I play football to make history,” said Benzema, who now has 201 goals with Madrid. “Sometimes people don’t really understand what I do on the pitch. I’m there to help my teammates as well as score goals. For me the important thing always is winning.”