A Covid-19 decimated Shakhtar Donetsk sealed a historic result in the Spanish capital, as they beat Real Madrid 3-2 at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano to kick off Group B in the UEFA Champions League.
Missing seven starters and a total of 10 first team squad players, the Ukrainian champions came into this clash with a severely impacted squad, however what was about to unfold, was totally unexpected.
Marco Asensio had the first shot on target, as Madrid dominated the early possession, and a combination between Marcelo and Asensio, allowed the Spaniard to force the first save of the game. Then the visitors began to settle as Madrid’s possession game was toothless, just as it was against Cadiz in La Liga at the weekend.
Marlos was put through one-on-one, as Madrid were cut open effortlessly with a single ball from deep, luckily Thibaut Courtois made a terrific save to keep it level. But there was nothing the Belgian goalkeeper could do about the next time Shakhtar ventured forward. Marcelo has often looked the weak link over the past 12 months whenever he’s called upon, and things didn’t change tonight.
The legendary left-back’s tackle was completely mistimed and the ball deflected off him, and landed at the feet of Tete who gave the visitors the shock lead on the half-hour mark. Luka Jovic was given a rare start by Zinedine Zidane, and he was given a chance on the plate by Marcelo, but the struggling striker scuffed his header. And then, it got worse for the 13 time European Champions.
Tete was again causing havoc in the Madrid box, his shot was initially saved by Courtois, but from the rebound, Varane scored an own goal. Two goals in three minutes, Madrid looked lost and beaten.
But before the break, things reached crisis point in the capital.
Tete pulled Marcelo out position, before teeing up Manor Solomon with a delightful back-heel into the vacated area, and the Israeli added a third, making the scoreline scary reading for the Spaniards.
It was a similar first half to the one against Cadiz on Saturday, on that occasion, Madrid were fortunate they weren’t put to the sword like Shakhtar did this time round – a lack of energy, interest and quality. Zidane’s half-time team-talk must have worked, although it would have been tough for Madrid to be even worse after the break. But there was at least more urgency in the movement and passing.
Luka Modric opened the scoring eight minutes after the break, with a stunning solo goal, before Vinicius made it 3-2 with the fastest ever goal from a substitute in the competition’s history – 14 seconds after replacing Jovic.
Shakhtar though, had plenty of chances to kill the game off themselves on the counter-attack, and despite Madrid continuously flooding the box, there weren’t many clear-cut chances being created. In stoppage time, Fede Valverde had the ball in the back of the net, but Vinicius was stood in an offside position, and VAR adjudged him to be blocking young goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin’s vision.
Despite the second half resurgence and interest, Madrid have yet again shown how far they are behind their European rivals like Bayern Munich and Liverpool. Another defeat without the leadership of Sergio Ramos, another debacle in terms of attitude and intensity. Shakhtar have handed Madrid their second consecutive defeat in five days, and before the week’s up, it could get even worse for Los Blancos.
Up next for Real Madrid?
Who? FC Barcelona
When? Saturday 24th October @ 16:00 CET
Where? Camp Nou