Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE international football striker Tino Kadewere ended his brief goal-scoring drought in the French Ligue 1 with a brace on Sunday night after receiving a message of encouragement from ex-Olympique Lyon legendary forward Karim Benzema ahead of the derby against St-Etienne.
The lanky forward was on the scoresheet either side of the break as Lyon registered their biggest Ligue 1 win this season with a 5-0 drubbing of St-Etienne to keep their title hopes intact.
Kadewere had last found the back of the nets just before the Christmas break when Lyon beat Nantes 3-0. The former Harare City man, who is a self-confessed admirer of the 33-year-old Real Madrid forward, Benzema, fired blanks upon his return to France in games against Lens, Rennes and Metz.
Although he left Lyon more than 11 years ago for the Spanish La Liga, Benzema on Sunday sought to cheer up the spirits of his home town team and took to Twitter appealing to the team to keep their title hopes alive.
He also had special mention for Kadewere, who has now scored nine goals and contributed three assists in 20 appearances in his debut Ligue 1 season.
“Lyonnais tonight you can make a whole city proud and happy, we are all behind you! And Tino keep making your dreams come true!” tweeted Benzema before Sunday night’s match.
And Kadewere responded with the opening goal in the 16th minute before returning to complete his brace after 68 minutes.
Kadewere’s brace was his second in the derby. He scored a double in the reverse fixture when they fought from a goal down to win 2-1 after he had mentioned prior to the game that he had a dream in which he scored two goals.
The Zimbabwean told Telefoot that he was excited by his goals on Sunday.
“Firstly, I think it was a great game. We are very happy to win and make history for the club and for ourselves. Unfortunately, this time around I didn’t have a dream but I had a good feeling that it was going to be a good game.
“Scoring in the first game gave me so much confidence and I was so sure that today I might get goals and also get a victory for the club because that was more important (to get victory for the club and make history.),” he said.
Asked about if he had seen Benzema’s tweet prior to the match, Kadewere said: “Unfortunately, I don’t have Twitter but I am sure if I had seen this before the game I was probably going to score more goals because getting a Tweet from such a big player and someone I look up to gives me more motivation.
“So I am really happy that one of the strikers that influenced me to sign for Lyon is following my progress and happy with whatever I am doing. That gives me confidence also and I really want to thank him for the belief and for the support.”
Kadewere also said playing alongside the veteran French striker, who is eight year older than him, would be a dream come true.
“Play with Karim Benzema at Lyon or join him in Madrid? Regardless, playing with him would be a dream come true,” said Kadewere.
Lyon remained in third place in the title race as the top two of Paris St-Germain and Lille also won their matches to take their points tally to 45 points apiece and only getting separated by goal difference.
Lyon are still within striking distance on 43 points.
Kadewere dedicated the victory on Sunday night to the club’s supporters.
“I am happy. We won for the supporters. They were with us this morning, it was wonderful. The messages from the supporters give me a lot of confidence. It’s not over, there are a lot of games left. This derby was very important to us,” said Kadewere.
Lyon manager Rudi Garcia was delighted with the show by his team.
“Winning 5-0 in the derby is not something that happens every day. It shows that our work is paying off with success at set-pieces. It helps when you are able to score in these kinds of situations. We absolutely had to stay close to Paris and Lille, and we did it,” said Garcia.