Real Madrid survive a late scare to beat Shakhtar
Champions League, Arena Lviv – Shakhtar Donetsk 3 (Teixeira pen 77 88, Dentinho 83) Real Madrid 4 (Ronaldo 18 70, Modric 50, Carvajal 52)
Real Madrid survived a late three-goal salvo to win 4-3 in Lviv against Shakhtar Donetsk in Group A of the Champions League.
It had looked as if Rafa Benitez’s side were cruising to victory when Cristiano Ronaldo made it 4-0 on 52 minutes, but the Spanish side capitulated late on and were almost denied all three points by a Shakhtar side with their tails up.
Rafa Benitez picked his 15th different line-up in 16 games in charge of Real Madrid, making a string of changes to the eleven that start the Clasico defeat on Saturday. Gareth Bale partnered Ronaldo in a front two, with Iscospearheading a much more defensively solid midfield quartet than Los Blancos put out at the weekend.
The new-look Real weren’t anywhere near their flowing best in the first-half, but Ronaldo could still have had a hat-trick, first firing over after a lovely through-ball from Luka Modric and later heading straight into the arms of the goalkeeper after good work by Bale. It was Ronaldo who opened the scoring for Real though, nodding into an empty net after Bale had hooked the ball over the onrushing keeper with the aim of either finding the net himself or laying it on a plate for his fellow centre-forward.
The outstanding Modric made it 2-0 shortly after half-time before Dani Carvajal added a third with a beautiful effort just two minutes later.
And Ronaldo bagged his second of the game and what turned out to be the winning after a trademark run from Bale opened Shakhtar up down their right side.
However, that wasn’t the end of the action. The visitors switched off and allowed Shakhtar back into the game… with almost disastrous consequences.
First Alex Teixeira converted a penalty after a foul by Casemiro in the box, then Dentinho chested in at the back post and Teixeira slotted home his second of the game with three minutes remaining to ensure a very finale as the hosts went in search of a goal that would have given them an unlikely point.
The fourth goal never came and Madrid left Lviv with all three points thanks to a 4-3 win, but the doubts over Rafa Real remain.
18’ – GOAL! Shakhtar 0-1 Real. Ronaldo opens the scoring from point-blank range. Bale bursts through down the left, draws in the keeper and last man with his run and chips the ball across for Ronaldo to head home into an empty net. 1-0.
50’ – GOAL! Shakhtar 0-2 Real. Luka Modric makes it 2-0 to Real Madrid. Ronaldo cuts back into the area and tees up Modric, who does well to wrap his foot around the shot and lash the ball home for his first goal of the season.
52’ – GOAL! Shakhtar 0-3 Real. Dani Carvajal makes it 3-0 to Real Madrid with the goal of the night. Ronaldo lays the ball off to the full-back on the right of the box and Carvajal produces a moment of top-class finishing to curl a shot into the far top corner. 3-0.
70’ – GOAL! Shakhtar 0-4 Real. Cristiano Ronaldo scores his second of the night to make it 4-0… but this goal is all about Bale. The Welshman nips the ball past the right-back on the halfway line and uses his ridiculous pace to reach the penalty area before anyone can get close to him. He skins the covering defender and pulls the ball back for Ronaldo, who scores at the second attempt. 4-0.
77’ – PENALTY! Shakhtar have a penalty! Where has that come from?! Out of nowhere the hosts break at pace and Casemiro commits a needless foul.
78’ – GOAL! Shakhtar 1-4 Real. Alex Teixeira picks out the bottom corner to give the home fans something to cheer. 4-1.
83’ – GOAL! Shakhtar 2-4 Real. Dentinho chests in a second for Shakhtar after being left completely unmarked at the back post from the corner. Real Madrid’s defence have switched off and are being duly punished.
88’ – GOAL! Shakhtar 3-4 Real. What is going on?! Alex Teixeira makes it 4-3, turning inside the box and slotting into the bottom corner after being teed up by Taison. The comeback is on!
Is a more defensive midfield the best way forward for Real Madrid?Casemiro and Kovacic are not the finished articles, nor are they as naturally gifted as James Rodriguez or Isco, but put the two in the Real Madrid midfield and it creates a platform from which Real can launch their attacking talents. It might not be the most adventurous tactic on paper, but it worked in practise against Shakhtar, who barely got a sniff in midfield until changes were made in the second half.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Luka Modric (Real Madrid): The little Croatian was at his mercurial best, freed up by having some more defensively-minded players alongside him in the Real Madrid midfield. Modric pulled the strings before being taken off, which was exactly the time that the visitors started to get a foothold in the middle of the park. His goal was superbly taken and a reminder that he is also a very good finisher when he gets the chance to venture further forward.
Shakhtar Donetsk: Pyatov 7; Kobin 5, Ordets 5, Rakitskiy 5, Azevedo 5; Fred 6, Stepanenko 5, Marlos 6, Teixeira 7, Bernard 8, Gladkiy 6. Subs: Taison 7, Dentinho 7, Ferreyra 6.