Real Madrid 1-2 Sheriff: Moldovan minnows shock 13-time European champions with Sebastien Thill netting last-gasp screamer to down Carlo Ancelotti’s men
How we’d miss these games if Real Madrid ever got their way and made Europe’s premier club competition a closed shop affair. Fearless Sheriff Tiraspol turned up at the home of the 13-times European Cup winners and turned them over 2-1.
The Champions League debutants from the breakaway region of Transnistria in Moldova are an unknown quantity in this year’s tournament and that much was evident when they took a first half lead and then grabbed a last minute winner with a screamer from Sebastien Thill.
Cristiano da Silva Leite was allowed to run down the right and from his deep cross Jasurbek Yakhshiboev had found just as much space in the area to head past Thibaut Courtois on 25 minutes. Nacho and David Alaba were both spectators as assist-provider and finisher combined.
Moldovan minnows Sheriff secured a famous victory against Real Madrid in the Spanish capital
Sebastien Thill (centre) netted an 89th minute screamer to hand the visitors the win
Jasurbek Yakhshiboev gave the Moldovan side a shock lead at the Santiago Bernabeu
The Uzbek powered a header past Thibaut Courtois after being left unmarked at the back post
Real Madrid then restored parity after Karim Benzema equalised from the penalty spot
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Courtois 6; Nacho 5 (Rodrygo 65) 7, Militao 6, Alaba 6, Miguel 6 (Jovic 65) 5; Camavinga 7, Casemiro 6 (Kroos 65) 6, Valverde 7; Hazard 7 (Modric 65) 6, Benzema 8, Vinicius 9
Subs not used: Vallejo, Asensio, Lunin, Lucas, Isco, Mariano, Lopez, Blanco
Goal: Benzema pen 65
Sheriff (4-2-3-1): Athanasiadis 9; Constanza 7, Arboleda 7, Dulanto 7, Cristiano 8; Thill 8, Addo 6; Traore 7, Kolovos 6, Castaneda 6 (Keston Julien 65) 6; Yakhshiboev 7 (Bruno 56).
Subs not used: Celeadnic, Radeljic, Serafim Cojocaru, Nikolov, Pascenco, Maxim Cojocaru, Yansane
Goals: Yakhshiboev 25, Thill 89
Referee: Lawrence Visser (Belgium)
The nerves set in and when Courtois’ next clearance went straight to Yakhshiboev his shot went just wide.
After conceding Madrid stepped up the pressure and Vinicius clipped a shot just wide after a storming run from Fede Valverde. Eden Hazard then drew a save from Georgios Athanasiadis. With so much indecision at the back the best form of defence for Madrid was clearly to attack.
Hazard was playing well and he crossed for Karim Benzema who shot just wide. The former Chelsea’s forward’s form was encouraging for Carlo Ancelotti’s side and he forced another important save from Athanasiadis who tipped over.
The visiting keeper was having the game of his life, next parrying Casemiro’s shot out for a corner. Madrid had played well since conceding but there was an anxiety about their finishing that suggested we were in for a shock.
The pattern of the second half continued unchanged. Hazard shot 10 minutes after the break and Athanasiadis dived full-stretch to push the ball out for a corner.
Vinicius was on a one-man mission to get Madrid level and twice he went down in the box. The first time Belgian referee
Edmund Addo’s lunge he pointed to the spot.
Benzema’s penalty into the top corner was emphatic and so were Ancelotti’s changes a moment later. He took off both full-backs and moved midfielders Camavinga and Valverde into their positions. Toni Kroos and Luca Modric came into midfield and Rodrygo and Luca Jovic replaced Hazard and Casemiro. It was all out attack.
The visitors gave an early setback to the hosts, who nearly gifted their visitors another shortly after
But they eventually responded, with Vinicius Junior among those to go close in the first half
Eden Hazard also had an effort on goal as Madrid pushed for the equaliser in the second half
They were handed a lifeline with a penalty following a VAR review when Vinicius was impeded
That inevitably left holes at the back and when Bruno scored from close range on 72 minutes it was the offside flag that saved Madrid. The home side’s next attack almost put them in front. Benzema and Modric found each other in a packed penalty area but when the Croatian let fly the inspired Athanasiadis saved with his face.
Vinicius teed-up Rodrygo next but he leant back and put the chance over.
He’d been brilliant and alongside him Benzema had scored in his 17th different champions League – a new record – and overtaken Raul as the competition’s fourth top scorer. But they would end up on the losing side.
Jovic had the chance to score with two minutes left from Rodrgyo’s cross but inside the six-yard box he failed to be man-of-the-match Athanasiadis.
And Sheriff went down the other end to score the winner with their last attack. There were seven minutes of added time but they held out for a famous win sinking to their knees on the final whistle with hero Athanasiadis embraced by each of his jubiliant team-mates.
Referee Lawrence Visser booked Carlo Ancelotti before the penalty was taken
Benzema slotted the ball home from the spot to restore parity for the home side
But ultimately it was a feeling of dejection for the hosts after they went down at home