The impetus of Vinicius, tireless in the attempt, saved Real Madrid from a new setback at the Santiago Bernabéu and gave Karim Benzema a triumph in a gray game with two assists on goal, author of the thousandth Madrid goal in the European Cup, in an afternoon of defensive imbalances for the Whites that allowed Shakhtar to have hope until the end.
The symptoms of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu do not improve. He longs for the atmosphere of the past in a stadium under reconstruction, which barely surpasses what would be half an inning per game. From the old magical nights, it has become cold and demanding. The Madridista does not like to see his team back down, no matter how much advantage it reflects on the scoreboard or because of strategy, to seek to damage Shakhtar on the counterattack.
It was what happened after a moment for history. It could not be other than Karim Benzema, absolute leader of the white team, who left his name for eternity as the author of the thousandth goal in the Real Madrid European Cup. The goal came at 14 minutes in an action in which ‘merits’ were distributed for Trubin’s mistake, with a pass poisoned by his power, Marlon’s poor control and the intensity with which Vinicius played, who bit and stole to give the goal to the French.
When Eden Hazard was expected on the trident due to Rodrygo’s injury, or Marco Asensio, Ancelotti opted for Lucas Vázquez. Another direct to the chin of the Belgian, installed in a role that has been won due to his low performance but with which he surely does not identify. The Italian coach opted for a pure right-handed winger to open the field. The other two options generate more inside and he also discarded them in the changes. At the beginning, Real Madrid left a good feeling. With Modric testing the safety of a goalkeeper who was thrashed in Kiev.
The need for Shakhtar, who gambled whatever small option he had left in the group, was to repeat the feat of last year when he conquered Di Stéfano. Without complexes, he went for the game. He started by asking for a penalty from Mendy, lamenting Patrick’s shot to the post from outside the area and his defensive weakness on a gifted goal.
Real Madrid felt superior and after caressing the second with a low shot from Modric which Trubin showed off with a stop with one foot as if he were a handball goalkeeper, he lowered the intensity. Brand mismatches, lack of tension, symptoms that the tier does not forgive. Teté tested Courtois with a poisoned center, Mudryk with a shot from the front and Fernando forgave everything to score as the whistles grew.
Nobody was surprised by the draw six minutes before the break, with a simple long pass that killed Teté with his chest and defined with quality, up, unstoppable for Courtois, Fernando. The comeback would not have been striking either, but the Belgian goalkeeper avoided it with a great save to Fernando. No response to the back of Kroos, with meters that nobody covered and Militao exceeded in speed. Suddenly, the ‘three tenors’ fell for years. With Casemiro without reaching the coverage and Modric with Kroos slower than usual, surpassed in defensive tasks.
Ancelotti’s team shouted for rest, who was of little use to the message he launched on the eve of the significance of the duel. His team did not capture it on the field. Neither in the second half, nor with the spark of Vinicius who gave a key victory to clarify the group.
If the game was a fight between Brazilians, the balance fell on the Madrid side. The duel was decided between Vinicius, who broke the monotony of the game with a start, and Casemiro’s heel hit to return the wall. The second assist from ‘Vini’ to Benzema gave Real Madrid a lackluster triumph. Because the Shakhtar’s will no longer had a prize that would not have been undeserved.
There was no reaction from the bench, with no other changes from Ancelotti other than the defensive reinforcement of Nacho to give Carvajal air and that of Jovic for a Benzema with discomfort. It all came down to Vinicius’s outbursts while concessions were left behind that cost dearly against any major rival.
Stepanenko stroked the equalizer with a left foot that brushed the crossbar, Ismaily put the fear to Real Madrid with a header and in added time Courtois saved three key points with a stop below after a shot from Marcos Antonio. The white team caresses the eighth, sowing doubts.
– Data sheet:
2 – Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal (Nacho, m.66), Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Lucas Vázquez, Vinicius and Benzema (Jovic, m.79).
1 – Shakhtar: Trubin; Dodo, Marlon, Matvienko, Ismaily; Maycon, Stepanenko (Sudakov, m.80), Patrick (Marcos Antonio, m.80), Teté (Marlos, m.80), Mudryk (Solomon, m.71); and Fernando (Dentinho, m.86).
Goals: 1-0, m.14: Benzema. 1-1, m.39: Fernando. 2-1, m.61: Benzema.
Referee: Benoit Bastien (FRA). He admonished Mendy (38) and Casemiro (63), for Real Madrid; and to Dentinho (92), from Shakhtar.
Incidents: match corresponding to the fourth day of Group D of the Champions League played at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium before 41,300 spectators. EFE (HN)