The thirteen-time UEFA Champions League winners faced the champions of Moldova at the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid won their first UCL game by taking a narrow 1-0 win over Inter Milan at the San Siro. Sheriff Tiraspol won Shakhtar 2-0 meaning they led group D coming into the game. Sheriff came in good form having won six of their last seven. They sit third in their league with three games in hand. Madrid top the La Liga table with a point and have looked quite the attacking unit under the experienced Carlo Ancelotti.
Apart from a couple of meaty tackles in the first ten minutes, there was not much in the game. Eduardo Camavinga came off the bench to provide the game-winning assist for Rodrygo in the last game and was bossing things in the opening minutes. Karim Benzema had a freekick palmed away by Giorgos Athanasiadis on 17 before Eden Hazard worked a chance for Fede Valverde to fire over. Madrid came pouring forward against the lowest-ranked team in the competition and Sheriff countered. Cristiano whipped in a delightful ball for Jasurbek Yakhshiboev to head in. Real Madrid 0-1 Sheriff.
Madrid came forward again and after good play from Benzema, Miguel Gutiérrez fired over. Thibaut Courtois nearly gifted Sheriff a goal. His misplaced pass found its way to Yakhshiboev who fired wide. Madrid went searching for a response.
First, Vinicius shot wide, then Nacho should have scored after an Eden Hazard shot was saved and he had the goal gaping. On 37, Benzema found some space and curled wide failing to add to his tally of 71 UCL goals. Madrid were all over Sheriff accruing shots in double figures. Hazard tried to cross but it came as a fierce shot for Athanasiadis to save. You could see why Sheriff had only conceded 17 goals in their last 73 games as they defended their lead until halftime.
Real Madrid lacked composure and that was where they were getting it wrong. They came out probing but all their crosses were looking hurried and forced. Hazard forced a save from the man that had kept a clean sheet in his last six games before Eder Militao flashed a header wide. The Sheriff players were throwing their bodies on the line like it didn’t matter. You could see why they conceded only seven goals in 36 games in their entire 20/21 campaign. Vinicius Jr threw himself around the box twice and the second time the referee was asked to look again. Minimal contact from Edmund Addo but it was deemed a penalty. Benzema stepped up and rifled the ball into the top corner. Real Madrid 1-1 Sheriff.
Benzema has now scored in 17 successive Champions League campaigns and moves to fourth all-time top scorer in the UCL. Camavinga set it up for Vinicius who hammered a shot but the keeper was up for it. Yakhshiboev picked up a knock and was replaced by Bruno who put the ball in the back of the net but it was offside. On 83, Rodrygo should have scored another winner but he fired a good chance over the bar. Sebastien Thill fired a long-range shot but it was comfortable for Courtois. On 87, Fernando put in one of the best tackles you’ll ever see to prevent Luka Jovic (on for Hazard) from scoring.
In the dying minutes of the game, a clearance from David Alaba fell to Thill who crashed a shot in Courtois’s top corner. Goal. Real Madrid 1-2 Sheriff. The Luxembourg international ran like a mad man to celebrate with his shirt off. What a performance for the minnows!
Valverde hit the bar from a deflected shot and Vinicius tried a spectacular effort that was comfortable for the keeper. Benzema tried another shot but it lacked conviction. The six minutes of extra time was up. Real Madrid 1-2 Sheriff.
What a performance! What a win for the Moldovan side! deserved!