Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Real Madrid 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk: Benzema at the double as Los Blancos make history

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 Nov 2021

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Karim Benzema’s double propelled Real Madrid to a 2-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk as they at least temporarily moved top of Champions League Group D.

A woeful defensive error from Shakhtar enabled Benzema to give Madrid the lead in the 14th minute, Los Blancos becoming the first team to reach 1,000 Champions League/European Cup goals.

Shakhtar responded superbly and levelled matters when Fernando powered home their first goal of the group stage.

Yet Madrid were much improved in the second half, and predictably it was Benzema who provided the decisive touch after wonderful build-up play from Vinicius Junior and Casemiro.

Luka Modric could have given Madrid the lead in the fifth minute as he was played in on goal at the end of a well-worked move only to be thwarted by a superb save by Anatolii Trubin.

Alan Patrick offered an early glimpse of Shakhtar’s threat when he hit the post with a long-range drive, but the visitors then gifted Madrid their landmark goal in bemusing fashion.

Trubin played a short pass out to Marlon Santos, only for the centre-back to immediately cede possession to Vinicius, who teed up Benzema for a simple tap-in.

Modric was again thwarted by Trubin before Fernando was unfortunate to see an effort deflected wide as Shakhtar continued to pose Madrid problems.

Fernando got the equaliser Shakhtar’s response to the goal deserved, lashing a volley beyond Thibaut Courtois from Patrick’s chest down, and it needed a fine save from the Belgium international to prevent the same pair from combining to put the visitors ahead before half-time.

But Shakhtar were left to rue their earlier profligacy as Vinicius and Casemiro played a silky one-two before the former again supplied the pass for Benzema to secure maximum points for Madrid with his 61st-minute effort.

What does it mean? Unconvincing Madrid on course to progress

Madrid were fortunate to only concede once against a Shakhtar team who were dangerous throughout, but top of the group with nine points ahead of Sheriff’s meeting with Inter, it is difficult to see Los Blancos not reaching the last 16 from this position.

Vinicius’ star continues to rise

Though his first assist for Benzema could hardly have been easier, the neat interplay with Casemiro that brought about the second served as yet another demonstration of why Vinicius is emerging as the young star of this Madrid team. He finished with a game-high five key passes and had more touches in the opposition box (17) than anybody else.

Shakhtar’s second-half slump

The visitors looked to be well positioned to take something from a difficult fixture, but they had just one second-half shot on target before the 91st minute, their inability to test Courtois consistently leaving them with one point from four games. They could be eliminated from last-16 contention by the end of Wednesday.

What’s next?

Real Madrid host Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, with Shakhtar visiting Kolos in the Ukrainian top flight on Sunday. Matchday five in the Champions League sees Madrid travel to Sheriff while Shakhtar are away to Inter.

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