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Immediate Reaction: Sheriff 0 - 3 Real Madrid

Goals from Alaba, Kroos, and Benzema seal a big win in Moldova and qualification to the round of 16.

Sheriff Tiraspol vs Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Photo by Constantin Stefan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti was leaving nothing to chance in Moldova and played his strongest starting XI despite big matches against Sevilla, Inter, and Atletico Madrid on the horizon. Lessons were learned from the previous match between these two teams at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Madrid taking their chances today. Alaba scored from a free kick and Toni Kroos scored a beautiful team goal just before the half-time whistle to sentence the match within 45 minutes. Benzema put the nail in the coffin with a third goal; a precision shot from outside the box that nestled into the bottom corner. Some additional match notes below:

- Rodrygo and Modric had a strong connection on the right wing and combined with quick one-two’s to break down the Sheriff defense.

- Rodrygo was a major standout, especially in the first half. Produced a brilliant bit of skill inside the box, gliding past three defenders and nearly pulling off a wonder-goal. The Brazilian is showing a willingness to take more risks, greater dynamism, and overall skill this season.

- Madrid made 11 recoveries in the Sheriff half within the first half alone. The Moldovan side had a few moments with space to counter, but were otherwise suffocated and locked in their own half.

- Kroos and Modric, what more needs to be said. The two central midfielders continue to be a class above the rest and were dominant vs Sheriff.

-Quiet game from Vinicius Junior, but still showing mature decision making and good off ball runs.

-Alaba came up with an injury around the hour mark and early reports suggest he had some discomfort in his left knee. More to come.

-Asensio played final 10 minutes and created a couple of opportunities to continue his scoring run.

- There were substitutions, but none for core players like Benzema, Modric, Kroos, or Vinicius.