Champions LeagueFootballNEWSTalking Point

Minnows Sheriff record great Champions League victory, stun Real Madrid

Benzema becomes first player to score in 17 consecutive Champions League seasons

Moldovan side FC Sheriff Tiraspol continued their fairytale start to the UEFA Champions League with a shock 2-1 win over 13-time champions Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on matchday two.

After both sides won their opening games of the UCL season with FC Sheriff defeating Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid overcoming Inter Milan thanks to a late Rodrygo strike, they faced off with not a lot in common. Spanish La Liga leaders Real Madrid were in the semifinals of last season’s UEFA Champions League before losing to eventual champions Chelsea, while this was only FC Sheriff’s debut Champions League campaign.

Real Madrid started the match in dominant fashion and had over 80% possession in the opening exchanges as they forced FC Sheriff to defend very deep with their front foot football.

The visitors opened the scoring totally against the run of play in the 25th minute of the match. A quick counter by the Moldovan outfit saw Cristiano (not Ronaldo) deliver a cross from the left flank, which was emphatically met by the head of Uzbekistan international Jasurbek Yakhshibaev, who headed it back across Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to give his side a shock lead.

FC Sheriff goalkeeper Georgios Athanasiadis was having the game of his life as he denied Real Madrid star Eden Hazard on multiple occasions while also saving a good shot from Brazilian midfielder Casemiro as the visitors went into halftime of their second-ever UCL match in possession of a 1-0 lead.

The second half resumed with Real Madrid pursuing an equaliser against their unknown opponents, with Hazard forcing another smart save from the goalkeeper shortly after the restart. Real Madrid resorted to crossing balls into the box as their opponents stayed compact and disciplined in defence.

Real Madrid finally got lucky when in-form winger Vinicius Junior tried to wriggle past two defenders but was caught in the box by Edmund Addo, forcing the referee to point to the spot and award Real Madrid a penalty in the 64th minute.

Real Madrid captain and in-form striker Karim Benzema blasted home the penalty beyond the reach of the FC Sheriff goalkeeper. The penalty was his first in the UCL and 72nd goal overall and restored parity for his side. Benzema’s penalty took him above Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez, who scored 71 goals, to fourth on the all-time UCL scoring charts. The Frenchman has now scored nine goals this season for Los Blancos.

Despite conceding the penalty, FC Sheriff remained positive in their approach and thought they had grabbed a second when substitute Bruno Felipe scored off another Cristiano cross in the 72nd minute, but his effort was ruled out for offside after a VAR review.

The Moldovan side would go on to have the final say in spectacular fashion in the 90th minute as Luxembourg midfielder Sebastien Thill fired in a brilliant half-volley from 20 yards.

After a period of sustained Real Madrid pressure, FC Sheriff got the ball up the pitch and won a throw-in deep inside Real Madrid territory. Fernando Constanza threw the ball to Adama Traore (not the Wolves man) in the Real Madrid box, and the forward sent a cushioned pass back for Thill, who readjusted his body quickly before firing an unstoppable effort into the top right corner of the Real Madrid goal, sparking wild celebrations from the away fans and players.

FC Sheriff are top of their UCL group with six points, three more than second-placed Real Madrid. The bottom two positions are occupied by Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk after their 0-0 draw in the other group game.

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