Toni Kroos and Rodrygo Goes impressed while David Alaba starred as Real Madrid beat Sheriff Tiraspol 3-0 to advance to the UEFA Champions League knockout stage.
Having suffered a shock defeat to Sheriff Tiraspol in the reverse fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid came into Wednesday’s game with a score to settle and started positively with Karim Benzema seeing a goal get chalked off for offside early on. The breakthrough came around the half-hour mark when David Alaba’s free-kick found the back of the net via a deflection from Cristiano.
Close to half-time, Los Blancos doubled their advantage with Toni Kroos applying the finishing touches to a fine team move. Less than fifteen minutes into the second half, Benzema found the back of the net again, and this time it stood, making it 3-0 in favour of Carlo Ancelotti’s side, effectively killing the game off.
Sheriff Tiraspol did try to muster up a fightback late on and drew a couple of rather straightforward stops from Thibaut Courtois while Cristiano also struck the woodwork, but a goal was not forthcoming as the game ended 3-0 in favour of the La Liga heavyweights.
The win means Real Madrid are now through to the Round-of-16 stages of the Champions League, although they will need a positive result against Inter Milan in their final Group D game to finish as the toppers. Here are our player ratings for the Merengues’ stars after an important win in Moldova.
Real Madrid Player Ratings
Thibaut Courtois: 7/10
The Belgian was not called into action a great deal for most of the match. He did have a few stops to make in the later stages of the contest, but he was up to the task. Courtois was sharp and accurate with his distribution from the back.
Dani Carvajal: 7/10
Another solid display from Carvajal as he continues to put his injury woes behind him. The Spaniard was always a willing runner, providing a constant attacking outlet while he was sound in the defensive side of things, making a few crucial interventions. Good for his confidence.
Eder Militao: 7/10
Back into the lineup after being rested at the weekend, Militao was rock-solid at the heart of the Real Madrid defence. The Brazilian was strong in his ground duels and was unbeatable in the air while ensuring that Adama Traore did not cause any problems.
David Alaba: 7.5/10
Special competition, special goal!
¡Vaya, qué noche más bonita! ? pic.twitter.com/b0BQ9o4AVd
— David Alaba (@David_Alaba) November 24, 2021
The Austrian got the ball rolling for Real Madrid on the night with a well-hit free-kick to open the scoring, although the deflection helped him. He was composed and assured as ever in defence but had to come off with a knock in the second half, which will be a concern.
Ferland Mendy: 7/10
Apart from one poor cross that led to a dangerous counterattack from the hosts, the Frenchman hardly put a foot wrong on the night. Mendy kept things tight on his flank and bombed forward regularly, notably registering the assist for Benzema’s second-half goal.
Luka Modric: 7.5/10
The veteran midfielder continues to perform at the highest level game after game despite his advancing years. Modric put in a fine all-round display against Sheriff Tiraspol, during which he displayed some lovely link-up play with Rodrygo in the right-side channel while making line-breaking runs forward constantly. His distribution was crisp and accurate as always.
The Brazilian enforcer was key to Real Madrid controlling and dominating the proceedings in the manner they did, as he went about recovering possession in the middle of the park and setting his teammates forward with precise passes. Casemiro made six tackles and five clearances on the night, ensuring that the home team’s counterattacking attempts were foiled.
Toni Kroos: 8/10
— Real Madrid C.F. ???? (@realmadriden) November 24, 2021
The man who kept Real Madrid ticking with his top-notch passing abilities, Kroos attempted 117 passes on the night with a supreme accuracy of 95%, which helped his team control the contest. To top it off, the German international scored a sublime goal late in the first period to make it 2-0 — such an asset to the team.
Rodrygo Goes: 8/10
Reinstated to the starting XI after recovering from his injury, the Brazilian prodigy put in one of his finest displays of the season. While he may not have scored a goal on the night, Rodrygo was by far the more dangerous attacker for Real Madrid in Tiraspol with his dribbling, sharp movement and chance-creation. He got the assist for Kroos’ strike and finished with two key passes.
Karim Benzema: 7/10
As usual, the veteran Frenchman was working hard at the top of the pitch, trying to create openings for his teammates with his movement, executing neat link-ups with his fellow forwards. Benzema had the ball in the back of the net early in the first half but saw the goal get chalked off for offside. He made it 3-0 early in the second half with a thumping effort from 20 yards out. He has now scored five times in five Champions League games this term.
— Karim Benzema (@Benzema) November 24, 2021
Vinicius Junior: 6/10
The Player to Watch in our match preview, Vinicius Junior endured a rather quiet outing compared to his recent performances. The Brazilian was involved in the buildup to Kroos’ goal in the first half and displayed a good work-rate, without really standing out on the night.
The veteran left-back replaced Mendy a little after the hour mark. He offered a constant attacking outlet as usual and delivered a few dangerous crosses into the box.
Lucas Vazquez: 6/10
Came on for Carvajal for the last 25 minutes and kept things simple, ensuring there were no late hiccups.
The Real Madrid cantera came on for the injured Alaba in the 65th minute. He was solid at the back, putting in some strong tackles to keep the hosts at bay in the dying stages.
Marco Asensio: N/A
The Spaniard replaced Rodrygo in the 84th minute. He had two chances to score but was unable to find the back of the net.
Antonio Blanco: N/A
The young midfielder played the last five minutes or so after replacing Casemiro.