Real Madrid move on to the Knockout Stage of the Champions League after finishing 2nd in Group H. The CL defending champions finished second to Tottenham, who have remained undefeated in the tournament so far. After losing 3-2 in tonight’s match, Dortmund will drop into the Europa League, remaining winless in the Champions League this season.
With Real moving on regardless of their finish in this match, Ronaldo decided to make some history at its expense. Cristiano became the first player in the Champions League history to score in all six matches of the Group Stage. Ronaldo, with his new record, looks to take Real back to the promised land.
The First Half
Real got off to a red hot start in this match against Borussia Dortmund. It took only 8 minutes for Borja Mayoral to get his first ever Champions League goal and the first goal of the match for Real.
1st career Champions League start, 1st career Champions League goal for Borya Mayoral. https://t.co/2PmV1G3pRO— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 6, 2017
A great run from Ronaldo led to Isco just getting a tap-and-go pass to Mayoral for the goal. Real was off and running with the second goal of the night coming just four minutes later.
It was Cristiano who scored an absolute stunner in the top corner behind BVB’s Roman Bürki. It was perhaps Ronaldo’s best goal of the Champions League and the goal that gave him the record. This goal in the 12th minute gives him 9 goals for the CL so far over the course of all 6 matches played in the Group Stage.
It seemed like the Real train was moving forward full-steam ahead and was ready to run away with the match. However, this would not be the case for very long.
Dortmund had several chances after Real’s two quick goals. A cross pass from the corner, intended for Aubameyang, was luckily kicked away by Varane saving an easy-tap in for BVB. Another chance was Pulisic absolutely walking the Real defense and making a great pass to Shinji Kagawa. Again, Varane was there to keep a great ball from getting into the back of the Real net. Aubameyang again had another chance in the 34th minute that he just shanked wide, one he easily should’ve put past Navas.
With Dortmund pressing, further worry struck Real. Varane went down to an apparent injury, luckily getting up quickly. Taking no chances, Zidane decided to sub on Asensio for Varane just in case it was more than a scare. The momentum shifted to Real for a moment when Mayoral just missed a bid for his second goal wide.
Not even a minute later, Dortmund would cut Real’s lead in half. A great pass from BVB captain Marcel Schmelzer was headed in by Aubameyang. One could see this goal as a bit of retribution for missing a fairly easy goal earlier in the half.
With Dortmund cutting the lead to one goal, they went into halftime with all the momentum on their side.
The Second Half
Dortmund immediately turned their renewed confidence into the tying goal just 2 minutes into the second half of play. Aubameyang again drew blood against the Real Madrid defense, who just seemed to give up on the play. On further replays, it seems very much like the referee missed a clear offside on Aubameyang. Regardless, the match was a brand new one all tied up at 2 goals apiece.
Ronaldo, who was having himself quite a game already, missed a chance wide that would have put Real back on top. Like Aubameyang’s missed chance, it was one Cristiano usually buries. The next two important things to happen in the match, there was a bit of a lull in the action, were Ceballos being subbed on for Kovacic in the 57th and Llorente being subbed on for Isco in the 69th. These matches are really a great chance for Real to showcase their youth players and give them some extended playing time and experience.
More controversy would strike the pitch when BVB defender Neven Subotic pulled Ronaldo down by the shoulder. A clear foul, which should have been a penalty kick awarded to Cristiano. Again, a costly miss by the referee; luckily, this match didn’t mean much to Real in the grand scheme of things. Just minutes later, Ronaldo was cheated again when he put the ball in the net but was flagged for offsides. On further review, Ronaldo was onside and it should’ve been a 3-2 Real Madrid lead at this point.
No matter, as Lucas Vasquez did get Real back into the lead in the 81st minute of action. A great headed, lateral pass from Theo Hernandez found the side of Vasquez’s boot and past Bürki. Real would hold on to this lead and keep Dortmund winless in the Champions League.
This was, by no means, Real’s best match, but they were able to find a way to win. Which, is exactly what you need if you want to move forward in the Champions League and hopefully win it all. You could argue this should have been a 4-2 win (or 4-1 if you call Aubameyang’s 2nd goal offside), but it didn’t really matter. What matters is that Real is moving on to the knockout stage of the CL which starts in February.
All 5 of the English teams in the Champions League are also moving on, which means there is a higher chance that Real will have to play one of them to start the Knockout Stage. Regardless of who Real draws, they need to play much better defensively. When Varane went off, the defense looked pretty dreadful. Nacho, who was in for Carvajal, looked like he had never played with Sergio Ramos before. They looked lost at times and they really need to get it together for the Knockout Stage if they want to go farther than they are in La Liga.