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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk

A Benzema brace puts Madrid at the top of group D...

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

Real Madrid 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk (Benzema x2). Here is the immediate reaction to the victory. Still to come: press conference quotes, player ratings and the post game podcast.

A shock home defeat to Sheriff Tiraspol left group D wide open at the half way point, and Real Madrid with six points were two points to the good ahead of third placed Inter Milan. It could still go in any direction, so today’s game against Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk was all the more important. A 5-0 romping saw Madrid breeze past Shakhtar during the away fixture, so any attempt at replicating that performance would be well received this time out. The starting line-up was full of experience and that carried on to the substitutes list, with only three Castilla players making the bench. Karim Benzema once again captained the team.

Within the first ten minutes both teams could have scored. Luka Modrić had more time than he was used to in the box and could only force the keeper into a save after two minutes. Alain Patrick hit Thibaut Courtois’ post from distance not long later. Real Madrid did then take the lead after a defensive mistake led to Vinicius junior setting up Karim Benzema for the tap-in. Modrić had another knock on the door well kept out and the game continued to be open and offensively entertaining. Shakhtar then started to step up their play, growing more into the game and creating some strong chances. This resulted in the equaliser when Fernando smashed the ball home for the club’s first Champions League goal of the season. They could have gone into the break ahead as well, if not for a great save by Courtois to deny Patrick again.

Madrid managed to keep things even enough at the opening of the second half, but numerous poor touches, passes and decision making began to cause frustration amongst fans. Benzema managed to squash that frustration after finishing off a delightful involving Vinícius Júnior and Casemiro. The speed of the combination play gave Shakhtar no chance of stopping the goal. Luckily for the home side, the game drastically slowed down after the goal - and Shakhtar appeared far less dangerous. Los Blancos didn’t really make any statements themselves, but it was enough for them to finish the game with the 2-1 win. The Ukrainian's pushed for an equaliser late on, but Courtois was equal to a shot sprayed in low right at the death. The victory keeps them going, and puts them at the top of group D. They will hopefully retain this position, but that is dependant on the Sheriff - Inter game commencing shortly... Some of the stand out players included Vinícius Júnior and Thibaut Courtois yet again - With Karim Benzema stealing the headlines once more with his two well taken goals. Despite getting the win and topping the table, are you happy with this performance?

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