Real Madrid 2-0 Borussia Monchengladbach: Zinedine Zidane’s side bounce back from Shakhtar defeat to TOP their Champions League group and ease pressure on boss as Karim Benzema nets twice on his record-equalling 527th appearance for the club
- Benzema ghosted into the area unmarked to head home in the ninth minute
- The striker rose again to power home a cross from Rodrygo in 32nd minute
- The German side sneaked through as Inter drew 0-0 with Shakhtar Donetsk
The 13 times winners of the tournament had flirted with what would have been their first group stage elimination ever but Karim Benzema, Luka Modric Toni Kroos and Lucas Vazquez all said: not on our watch.
Benzema will get the glory. He was playing his 527th game for Real Madrid, equaling Roberto Carlos’ record for non-Spaniards with the most appearances for the club. And he celebrated by getting his 56th and 57th Champions League goals.
Karim Benzema scored twice in the first-half as Real Madrid took control of crunch encounter
Behind him he had Modric and Kroos rolling back the years and Lucas Vazquez a constant threat down the right from full-back.
Those four players have 15 Champions League winner’s medals between and that weight told.
Real Madrid were ahead after just nine minutes. Casemiro had made a shaky start with one over hit pass but he opened the pitch up for the galloping Lucas and he sprinted to the edge of the area before curling a cross on to Benzema’s head. Yann Sommer didn’t move on his line as the header went past him.
Madrid were emboldened by the early goal and with Lucas and Modric directing things they dominated albeit with the threat of Borussia Monchengladbach on the break always there.
Rodrygo crossed from the right and Benzema was left unmarked to head home in 32nd minute
It was Lucas who was muscled off the ball in midfield and Alassane Plea ran between Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane honing in on goal. Thibaut Courtois came out quickly to impose himself and it was enough to make Plea hurry his shot wide.
Borussia Monchengladbach’s threat on the counter-attack was as clear as the freeway they had left down their left side was generous. Lucas had exposed it once, now it was Rodrygo’s turn.
He teased Nico Elvedi with shuffle of his quick feet before curling a right-footed cross. If Benzema had to work to power Lucas’ centre past Sommer, this time all the work was in the delivery and he made sure he met it cleanly to bury it.
Benzema gave Real Madrid the perfect start in the must-win on Wednesday night
With six minutes left of the half Madrid breached the Monchengladbach left again and this time it was Modric on the end of Lucas’ cross. His volleyed finish came back off the post.
The 35-year-old livewire then jumped for joy as he smashed in what looked like the third but the flag was up against Raphael Varane.
Madrid were two-up but it could have been more alongside the electric Modric, Kroos was ticking over at a 98 per cent pass accuracy rate. It was the permanence of class seeing Madrid over the line in a group they had complicated with their lapses against Shakhtar Donetsk.
The French striker drifted between the two defenders to direct a powerful header into the net
Monchengladback took off left-back Oscar Wendt at the break but Rodrygo skipped past his replacement Valentino Lazaro no sooner had the second half begun. Benzema got his head to it again but this time the effort lacked power and Sommer stopped it.
Sommer then pulled off a brilliant save to keep out Kroos’ shot destined for the top corner. Sommer made another superb stop from Sergio Ramos’ header moments later and Benzema then smashed the rebound onto the bar.
Lucas was the next to shake the frame of the goal lashing a shot past Sommer from Benzema’s pass but seeing it come back off the post. It could have been five but two was more than enough Madrid were in the last-16 business as usual and the only question left hanging in the air at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium: why had they previously made such hard work of it?
Borussia Moenchengladbach after a draw in Milan ensured they went through to the last 16