Karim Benzema signs historic double for Real Madrid to propel Los Blancos past Shakhtar

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Karim Benzema scored twice as Real Madrid beat Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday to move closer to qualifying in Group D.

Luka Modric had a point blank shot well stopped by goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin before Alan Patrick hit the post for the visitors. Benzema gave Madrid the advantage after a mistake at the back, Vinicius Junior with the assist and Modric was again denied in a busy first 20 minutes.

Madrid’s intensity weakened and Shakhtar finished the first half strong, Fernando shooting and then equalizing before Thibaut Courtois prevented him from giving Shakhtar the lead. Madrid continued to frustrate after the break until Benzema put them back in front after an hour, ending a fluid move involving Modric, Casemiro and Vinicius.

Good points

Benzema’s opener, an easy tap-in, was Madrid’s 1,000th goal in the European Cup and Champions League. It seemed fitting that Benzema, the leader of this Real Madrid team, would join a list of legendary names – from Miguel Munoz (1) and Alfredo di Stefano (100) in the 1950s, to Guti (500) and David Beckham (600). ) in the 2000s, to Cristiano Ronaldo (800 and 900) more recently – to score century-old historic goals on this list.

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While Madrid’s performance was inconsistent, the movement leading up to the second goal was a sensational display of quick passing and intelligent movement. Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid haven’t always played such fluid possession football – often this season they’ve been much more direct – but it was an encouraging sign that they can score goals against deeper defenses as well.

Negative

Madrid’s home form is starting to become a problem. They got the win here, but narrowly, and the Santiago Bernabeu home crowd were frustrated at times, especially in the middle third of the game before and after half-time. It’s odd that their struggles at the Bernabeu have coincided with the stadium returning to full capacity after social distancing restrictions eased.

Their last big home win dates back to September 22, a 6-1 win over Mallorca. Since then they have played goalless draws with Villarreal and Osasuna in La Liga, lost to Sheriff Tiraspol, and now that fragile 2-1 victory. The team’s defense also seems vulnerable. Shakhtar created several good chances in the first half and could easily have been ahead at the break.

Manager score out of 10

7 – Ancelotti made three changes to the squad that beat Elche 2-1 on Saturday, with the arrival of Benzema, Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy. The manager will have been concerned with how the team let the first half slip after scoring early, but satisfied with the way they responded later in the game. Ancelotti brought Luka Jovic towards the end, having spoken of the need to give the striker confidence if he is to succeed as Benzema’s understudy, and those minutes will have come in handy even if he couldn’t figure out on the score sheet.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 years old – Made a great Fernando save at 1-1 to prevent Shakhtar from taking the lead.

DF Dani Carvajal, 6 – He insists he feels 100% after his injury, but he doesn’t look like it yet. The first player to be replaced.

DF David Alaba, 6 – Praised as an instant pre-game locker room leader by Carvajal, and he’s a class act, but has to share some of the blame for the fragility of the defense at times.

DF Eder Militao, 7 – Very good with the ball, but still not always reliable when doing his main job of defense.

DF Ferland Mendy, 6 – I got a penalty cry in the first half and took a reservation. He will get better as the season progresses.

MF Casemiro, 7 – His 300th appearance for Real Madrid. A genius heel helped create Madrid’s second.

MF Toni Kroos, 7 years old – Important without being catchy.

MF Luka Modric, 8 – Started very well, advancing and scoring almost twice at the start, refused each time by the goalkeeper.

FW Lucas Vazquez, 6 – Ancelotti says he prefers a real winger like Vazquez to Eden Hazard or Marco Asensio in matches like these. Some nice touches and a well-judged cross in the second half, but not much else.

FW Vinicius Junior, 9 – Two assists for Benzema. While the first was straightforward, the second came after an inspired exchange with Casemiro. Vinicius isn’t just scoring more this season, he’s also more regularly involved in team play.

FW Karim Benzema, 9 – Scored twice and played 80 minutes before leaving to a loud standing ovation.

Substitutes

DF Nacho, 6 – Brought to offer some security on the right, with Madrid in the lead.

FW Luka Jovic, N / R – Played the last 15 minutes.

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