13-time European champions Real Madrid hosted Shakhtar Donetsk in their fourth UEFA Champions League Group D fixture on Wednesday night. Los Blancos overwhelmed Shakhtar in the reverse fixture a fortnight ago, recording an emphatic 5-0 win at NSC Olimpiyskiy.
With the likes of Vinicius Jr. and Karim Benzema firing on all cylinders, Real Madrid started as favorites at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday. Unsurprisingly, Real Madrid drew first blood on matchday four.
Vinicius Jr.’s high press caught Shakhtar’s defense off-guard and saw the hosts win back possession in a dangerous area. The Brazilian youngster effortlessly found Benzema inside the box, who applied the finishing touch to score Real Madrid’s 1000th goal in the competition.
Shakhtar, however, did not back down and came back swinging with a well-deserved equalizer just before the half-time whistle.
Real Madrid took time getting into the groove in the second half, but eventually got the go-ahead goal. Vinicius Jr. and Benzema combined once again to propel Los Blancos ahead for the second time on the night. Shakhtar Donetsk came at the hosts time and again, but just could not find a way through.
The 2-1 win may not mark Real Madrid’s most convincing performance, but some players did stand out. Here are Real Madrid’s top five performers in their 2-1 win against Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League.
#5 Luka Modric
Luka Modric may very well be in the twilight of his career, but he is far from being an afterthought at Real Madrid. On Wednesday against Shakhtar Donetsk, the Real Madrid number 10 was easily one of the team’s standout performers.
The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner combined tirelessly with right-winger Lucas Vazquez all night long and was at the end of two very presentable opportunities. He failed to apply the finishing touch on both occasions. But he more than made up for it with defensive contributions and box-to-box play.
#4 Eder Militao
Real Madrid centre-back Eder Militao was in scintillating form against Shakhtar Donetsk at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night. The Brazilian put in impressive blocks and read passes expertly, stopping dangerous moves from materializing. Militao covered for Dani Carvajal when the Spaniard joined the attack and stopped Shakhtar from exploiting the right flank.
Militao also drew the most fouls (3) in the match, which helped Real Madrid slow the pace down and regain control. With Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane gone, Real Madrid were in dire need of a dependable centre-back this season. Militao, who added another rock-solid performance under his belt, is slowly emerging as a worthy candidate.