Real Madrid boosted their chances of reaching the Champions League knockout stages after a late winner by substitute Rodrygo gave them a 3-2 home victory over Inter Milan in an absorbing Group B clash on Tuesday.
The result left Real, winners of a record 13 titles in Europe’s premier club competition, level on four points with Shakhtar Donetsk, one point behind leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach and two ahead of bottom-placed Inter.
Real had thrown away a two-goal lead and were flirting with a defeat which would have piled more pressure on manager Zinedine Zidane before their Brazilian duo of Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo combined to save the day.
Chances had gone begging at either end before Karim Benzema gave the home side a 25th-minute lead, rounding goalkeeper Samir Handanovic and slotting home after intercepting a dreadful back pass by Real’s former wing-back Achraf Hakimi.
The hosts seemed to be cruising after 33 minutes when Sergio Ramos headed their second – his 100th goal for the club in all competitions – but Lautaro Martinez pulled one back for Inter two minutes later thanks to a sublime assist by Nicolo Barella.
Real were rattled when Ivan Perisic equalised midway through the second half, threading a shot into the far corner from close range after Martinez headed the ball into the Croatian’s stride.
Inter then missed a pair of gilt-edged chances as Martinez shaved the outside of the post with a shot from the edge of the area and Perisic fired wide, with Real’s defence in tatters.
The Italians were punished for their misses, however, as Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo, brought into the fray together by Zidane shortly before Inter’s equaliser, carved out the winner from a lightning-fast break.
Vinicius Junior raced clear of his marker down the left flank and squared the ball back to Rodrygo, who beat Handanovic with an unstoppable shot into the top corner from 10 metres.
Inter are now under pressure halfway through the group stage to turn their fortunes around and will hope to have striker Romelu Lukaku back for the reverse fixture on November 25 after the Belgium striker missed the match with a thigh injury.
Vinicius rises with group wide open
Analysis from Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds:
This was described beforehand as a cup final for both sides – and it didn’t disappoint for drama. Real were bottom heading into this. And in their history, they have never failed to progress from the Champions League group stages.
Zidane’s side had gone four games without a win in the competition, but it appeared they would end that run with relative ease when Ramos doubled the hosts’ lead after 33 minutes. Things are never straightforward these days for Real, however, as they nearly snatched a draw from the jaws of victory.
Inter roared back through Martinez and Perisic to level, but then Real’s two substitutes combined for a rousing winner. For Vinicius, it was a moment of redemption, a week on from being apparently alienated by his team-mate Karim Benzema.
Benzema was caught on camera telling Ferland Mendy not to pass to the Brazilian during the 2-2 draw with Monchengladbach, but it was his assist which enabled Rodrygo to steer home – providing a welcome show of Zidane’s managerial acumen.
- Real Madrid have won seven of their eight home matches against Inter Milan in European competition (L1), winning each of the last six.
- Real Madrid have conceded 2+ goals in five consecutive UEFA Champions League games for just the second time (also in 2001).
- Only Lionel Messi (70) and Cristiano Ronaldo (63) have scored more group stage goals in the UEFA Champions League than Karim Benzema (49).
- Sergio Ramos netted his 100th Real Madrid goal in all competitions, with 55 of those being headed.
- Since the start of last season, only Robert Lewandowski (11) and Serge Gnabry (6) have scored more away goals in the UEFA Champions League than Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martínez (5).
- Rodrygo has had a direct hand in eight goals in eight UEFA Champions League appearances for Real Madrid (5 goals, 3 assists).
Champions League round-up
Bayern Munich came from behind to crush RB Salzburg 6-2 with two goals from Robert Lewandowski on Tuesday, stretching their record winning run in the Champions League to 14 consecutive games and leading their group by five points after three games.
The Bavarians, who have won five titles in 2020 including the Champions League, went behind after only four minutes when Mergim Berisha was left completely unmarked inside the box to beat goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Bayern instantly bounced back and Serge Gnabry had his shot cleared off the line before their top scorer Lewandowski levelled with a 21st-minute penalty.
Salzburg defender Rasmus Kristensen then turned a Thomas Mueller cross into his own net a minute before the break.
The hosts came close to an equaliser right after the restart but Neuer got his fingertips to Enock Mwepu’s shot to turn it wide. The Bayern keeper was beaten in the 66th minute, however, when Masaya Okugawa fired Salzburg level.
Despite a string of chances for the home side, it was Bayern who scored again in a strong finish with Jerome Boateng powering in a header from Joshua Kimmich’s corner in the 79th and Leroy Sane scoring with a perfectly curled shot four minutes later.
Lewandowski headed his second goal in the 88th and Lucas Hernandez drilled in a sixth in stoppage time to lift Bayern to nine points in Group A ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid.
Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw at Lokomotiv Moscow after the home team’s goalkeeper Guilherme pulled off a string of superb saves to keep the Russian side in the hunt for a last-16 berth.
Centre back Jose Gimenez fired Atletico ahead in the 18th minute with a fine header from 13 metres after an inch-perfect cross by Hector Herrera, a minute after Guilherme kept out a Saul Niguez shot.
The home side levelled in the 25th after a lengthy VAR check deemed Herrera to have handled the ball in the penalty area and Anton Miranchuk sent Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak the wrong way with a perfect spot-kick.
The result left Atletico second in the group on four points from three games, two behind Bayern Munich who were playing Salzburg away later on Tuesday. Lokomotiv have two points and Salzburg one.
Gladbach‘s remarkable 6-0 win over Shakthar Donetsk leaves Group B wide open. Striker Alassane Plea scored a hat-trick to take over from them at the top.
After Plea’s opener, they doubled their lead nine minutes later when Christoph Kramer’s shot from outside the box took a deflection from Valeriy Bondar to send Shakhtar keeper Anatoliy Trubin the wrong way. A Plea missile from 25 yards put the game beyond the hosts before Ramy Bensebaini added a fourth a minute before the break.
Lars Stindl made the most of a Trubin error to put his team 5-0 ahead in the 65th, before Plea beat the offside trap to complete his hat-trick with a fine finish.
Meanwhile, Liverpool thrashed Atalanta 5-0 and in the same group, Ajax scored after 47 seconds as they shrugged off disrupted preparations to beat Denmark’s Midtjylland 2-1 away for their first win.
Brazilian striker Antony opened the scoring inside the first minute with skipper Dusan Tadic netting the other as Ajax moved into second in the standings with four points after three games.
Anders Dreyer netted the first goal for the Danish rookies in the group phase, but they remain bottom without any points.
Manchester City eased to a 3-0 win over Olympiakos and Porto beat Marseille by the same scoreline, inflicting a record 12th consecutive defeat in the Champions League on the French club and leaving Andre Villas Boas’s team on the brink of elimination.
Moussa Marega, Sergio Oliveira with a penalty and Luis Diaz found the back of the net, while Dimitri Payet missed an early penalty for Marseille. The result meant Porto stay second on six points, three behind City.