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Player Ratings: Real Madrid 2 - 1 Shakhtar; 2021 Champions League Group Stage

The Vinicius Junior-Karim Benzema duo cannot be stopped

Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk - UEFA Champions League Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Nearly two weeks after facing each other in Ukraine, Real Madrid and Shakhtar dueled again for three precious Champions League points. These two sides have become familiar foes, having played each other in last year’s edition of the group stage as well. The questions for Carlo Ancelotti coming into the match were who would replace the injured Rodrygo on the right flank and would Benzema be healthy enough to recover his starting position? Benzema did indeed recover his starting striker role and in a surprise selection, Lucas Vazquez was selected as the preferred option on the right wing with Dani Carvajal slotting in at right back.

It ended up being another subdued performance at the Santiago Bernabeu, but some magin from Vinicius Junior and goals from Karim Benzema, was enough to see the team through. Full match player ratings below:

Thibaut Courtois—8: Came up with no less than two crucial saves and the distribution from his feet was strong. One of the best passing performances from Courtois all season.

Dani Carvajal—5: Still getting back into rhythm and was substituted off in the second half as Carlo is managing his minutes.

Eder Militao—6.5: Would be a higher rating, if not for the critical error Militao made on the Shakhtar goal. Completely fell asleep and allowed Fernando a free shot on goal. Besides his mistake, was huge in stepping up and reading passing lanes. This part of his game continues to develop.

David Alaba—6: Not always on the same wavelength as the rest of the backline and his rating falls, maybe harshly, because he is the leader of the backline and expected to put all the troops in order.

Ferland Mendy—5: Some needless fouls and limited impact in the final third — not one of Mendy’s best days at the office.

Casemiro—5: Typical Casemiro performance this season, gave away the ball easily in his own third, but did pop up on the go-ahead goal with a crucial pre-assist, rouletting the ball inside Shakthar’s box to Vinicius Junior.

Toni Kroos—5: Had an uncharacteristically bad pass to Militao in the first half which nearly led to a dangerous Shakthar opportunity. Pressed well in the opening 20 minutes and had some good tackles in the match, but did not stamp his usual authority.

Luka Modric—6: Should have scored within the opening 10 minutes after being played through with a 1 v 1 inside the six yard box. Was part of the lovely build-up play ahead of the second Madrid goal.

Lucas Vazquez—6.5: Ancelotti started Lucas on the right wing to provide width and defensive solidity and he did both.

Vinicius Junior—9: Even when Madrid plays poorly, Vinicius can make the difference. The true sign of a superstar. His current form places him as one of the best in the world. 2 assists, 5 key passes, and 4 completed dribbles — a menace.

Karim Benzema—8: Two goals on a night where he was not as involved offensively as he is usually is with regards to the team’s build up. Admitted after the match that he is still working through a niggle, but is enjoying every game.

Substitutions:

Nacho—6: Played at right back, replacing Carvajal, and shored up the backline for the final 25 minutes.

Luka Jovic—5: Drew some fouls while holding up the ball and released Vinicius Junior on a dangerous counter attack.