Ronaldo-inspired Madrid hold off Shakhtar
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Shakhtar Donetsk 3-4 Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo scored two and set up two as Rafael Benítez's side sealed top spot in Group A – but not without a huge late scare.
Article top media content
- Real Madrid seal top spot in Group A with victory in Lviv
- Shakhtar come from 4-0 down with three strikes in the last 14 minutes
- Cristiano Ronaldo takes UEFA Champions League tally to 84 goals
- Shakhtar will book UEFA Europa League spot if they match Malmö's result on matchday six
- Final Group A games: Paris v Shakhtar, Madrid v Malmö (8 December)
Cristiano Ronaldo scored two and set up two more as he and Luka Modrić helped Real Madrid to an impressive victory at Shakhtar that wrapped up top spot in UEFA Champions League Group A.
The pair were two of only three survivors from Saturday's 4-0 defeat at home to Barcelona, and their hunger was evident throughout. Modrić laid on the opener for Ronaldo on 18 minutes, and the Portuguese returned the favour at the start of the second half.
Madrid looked to have the points in the bag with 14 minutes left after further efforts from Dani Carvajal and Ronaldo, only for a remarkable Shakhtar fightback. Alex Teixera pulled one back from the spot, then Dentinho another before Alex Teixera's second set up a frenetic finale.
The Merengues survived, though perhaps fell short of the statement they had coveted after their worst Clásico defeat in five years. They certainly began with purpose. There were even shades of their great domestic rivals' tiki-taka as they greedily monopolised possession, with Modrić the beating heart.
It was the mercurial Croatian who fashioned the first opportunity, a sumptuous pass finding Ronaldo in space but, perhaps not yet warmed up in temperatures of -3C, the forward snatched at his shot. He did not make the same mistake around the quarter-hour mark.
Modrić played his part, feeding Gareth Bale with as much insouciant ease as the Welshman then demonstrated in sailing past Yaroslav Rakitskiy. His popped-up cross was nodded in by Ronaldo at the far post. The duo almost linked up for a second on the half-hour but Andriy Pyatov got in the way and it precipitated a brief rally from Shakhtar.
That came to nothing, though, and within seven minutes of the restart the match was as good as over. First Modrić collected Ronaldo's pass and neatly dispatched his first goal in a year, then Dani Carvajal ended his own drought of 64 games with a well-judged curling effort.
In between, Ronaldo had squandered another fine opening immaculately tailored by the stylish Modrić but no matter: with 20 minutes remaining he bundled in Bale's centre at the second attempt. All of which rendered futile the late Shakhtar revival.
Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo