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Real Madrid vs Shakhtar Donetsk, UEFA Champions League 2015/16: Los Blancos cruise (4-0)

Los Blancos left a more than convincing performance but suffered the injuries of three of their most important players.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

If we just looked at the scoreboard, we could say that Real Madrid's debut in the Champions League could not have been better, as they thrashed Shakhtar Donetsk, kept a clean sheet once again and conquered the first place in their group. Unfortunately, Gareth Bale, Raphäel Varane and Sergio Ramos had to leave the field earlier than expected as they all got injured during the game, and some of them (Bale, at least) will have to miss some of the forthcoming games.

The lineups

Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Carvajal, Varane (Pepe, 45'), Ramos (Nacho, 58'), Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Isco, Bale (Kovacic, 31'); Ronaldo, Benzema.

Shakhtar Donetsk: Pyatov; Srna, Kucher, Rakitskiy, Azevedo; Stepanenko, Fred; Marlos (Kovalenko, 74'), Teixeira, Taison (Malishev, 66'); Gladky (Bernard, 82').

The first half

Los Blancos, today organized around something that looked pretty much like a 4-4-2, with Bale and Isco on the wings and Ronaldo and Benzema upfront, started off on the right foot by controlling the possessions and besieging Shakhtar's goal. By the fifteenth minute, Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale, Varane, Isco and Marcelo had already had chances to score, and it seemed it would just be a matter of time for Real Madrid to break Shakhtar's defence.

The Ukrainians moved forward a little and got ahold of the ball for a little while, although they did not manage to bring any danger to Real Madrid's box, and in fact they started to leave too much space at their backs for Los Blancos to counterattack.

It was in one of these counterattacks when Gareth Bale, who was running at full force when he crashed into an opponent, got injured. Apparently, the Welshman suffered a muscular groin that will probably keep him out of the fields for a little while, although Real Madrid have confirmed that they will not make any medical tests on him until Thursday.

Before Kovacic entered the field to occupy Bale's spot, Isco crossed a ball from the left wing and one of Shakhtar's defenders blundered and left it at Benzema's boots. The Frenchman had no difficulty to score and give Real Madrid their first advantage in this season's Champions League. Later on, Ronaldo and Modric had two further decent chances to score, but their final touch was not precise enough to make Los Blancos reach the break with a bigger gap in their favor at the scoreboard.

The second half

Raphäel Varane, who had suffered a knock at his ankle in the first half, did not get back to the field after the break and left his place to Pepe. The early minutes seemed a bit cold for Real Madrid as Shakhtar controlled the ball, but the first time that Los Blancos stole and ran, Stepanenko fouled Sergio Ramos and was shown a second yellow card. Real Madrid's captain suffered a knock at his collarbone that made him leave the field a few minutes later to be substituted by Nacho.

Having a one-man advantage, Real Madrid players increased their intensity and managed to close the game soon enough. Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot before the sixty-third minute, and closed his hat-trick with a good header in the eighty-first. The gap could have been bigger, since Ronaldo, Isco and Benzema missed some further chances in the second half, but a 4-0 seems quite a fair result taking into account what we saw tonight at the Bernabéu.

Since PSG has beaten Malmö by 2-0, Real Madrid takes the leadership of group A. The competition will be resumed in two weeks, when Los Blancos will visit Malmö and PSG will have to visit Lviv to play against Shakhtar Donetsk.

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