UCL: Sheriff stun Real Madrid in one of competition’s biggest ever upsets

Was it the greatest upset in the recent history of the Champions League? Sheriff Tiraspol, in their first away game in the competition proper, have won 2-1 away to Real Madrid.

It was the landmark result on a thrilling night of European football as Paris Saint-Germain’s blockbuster clash against Manchester City — a 2-0 win for the home team — was put firmly in the shade by a cosmopolitan drawn to Transnistria from what seems like all four corners of the globe.

None of their players have ever been this far in the competition before yet they deployed the same counter-punching approach that had got them this far to aplomb in a famous win that came from Sebastien Thill’s stunning volley in the last minute. Two games in the group stages have brought two wins.

Elsewhere Club Brugge earned another blow from the underdogs with a 2-1 win over RB Leipzig, Liverpool scored five and Atletico Madrid left it late to overcome the 10 men of AC Milan. In the early matches of the day Ajax, 5-0 winners in their opening group game, bossed Besiktas in Amsterdam 2-0, with two first half goals while Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan fought to a scoreless draw in Kiev as both sides picked up their first points of the tournament. Remember you can watch all of tomorrow’s games live on Paramount+. They will do well to match this level of drama.

Champions League matches

Group A

  • Paris Saint-Germain 2, Manchester City 0
  • RB Leipzig 1, Club Brugge 2

Group B

  • Porto 1, Liverpool 5
  • AC Milan 1, Atletico Madrid 2

Group C

  • Ajax 2, Besiktas 0
  • Borussia Dortmund 1, Sporting 0

Group D

  • Shakhtar Donetsk 0, Inter Milan 0
  • Real Madrid 1, Sheriff 2

Match of the day week year

Sheriff’s first away game in the Champions League group stages could scarcely have been more dramatic nor could they have emerged with much more credit.

Throughout their lengthy run to this new pinnacle for Moldovan football, they proved to be masters of the counterattack; they were no less effective on the biggest stage. They may have ceded possession to Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu but they never really looked under pressure until the 25th minute when Cristiano (not that one) darted down the left on a rare counter. His cross was delicately placed at the back post where Jasurbek Yaxshiboyev was on hand to volley home.

In the opening round of games, Sheriff had defended a similar lead in authoritative fashion to beat Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0, holding their opponents at arms’ length and punching hard on the counter. Under the pressure of Eden Hazard and Vinicius Junior they could not quite hold on, Edmund Addo bringing down the latter in the box.

Karim Benzema made no mistake from the spot. The visitors might have buckled, especially as the likes of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric entered the fray, but the outstanding Giorgos Athanasiadis kept them at bay until the 90th minute.

Then the ball broke to Thill on the edge of the box. The Luxembourger may never hit a ball as sweetly again, a stunning half volley that flew into the corner. Thibaut Courtois didn’t have a chance. This may have been one of the greatest upsets in the history of the Champions League. 

Player of the day

Look it’s a real struggle to not turn this into a pure Sheriff post. Clearly the player of the day is anyone in a Sheriff shirt. But we’re obliged to mix it up so… on a night where Inter Milan needed to cling on to get on the board in their group, they were exceedingly lucky to have Milan Skriniar in their side.

The Slovakian center back was the hero of a second half rearguard as the Serie A champions survived to earn a 0-0 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk. He led his team in clearance and interceptions whilst making four of the six shot blocks that keep the Ukrainians from a win they would probably have deserved.

None of his blocks were more crucial than just after the hour when a cross came in low down the right, Dodo delivering and Pedrinho flicking it on at the near post. Somehow Skriniar anticipated the flick, diverting the ball out for a corner when a goal seemed inevitable. One point from two games is hardly ideal for Inter. Had it not been for their defensive rock it might have been much worse.

Goal of the day

Worth the wait? You always knew it would be. His first goal in a Paris Saint-Germain shirt was about as Lionel Messi as it comes, a driving run from the inside right channel, a give and go with Kylian Mbappe and a sweep of his left boot taking the ball across Ederson. Even the way the ball crashed down off the net was something special.

It was almost, almost, almost as good as Thill’s. But we expect this from Messi. We don’t from a player on loan from a player on loan from Progres Niederkorn. That has to take the prize for the day but credit must surely be offered to the outstanding Rafael Leao, not just for his low drive after smart footwork in the box by Brahim Diaz but for a wonderful bicycle kick that left Jan Oblak stranded before crashing off the Atletico Madrid crossbar.

Biggest upset

I mean, look, it’s Sheriff, isn’t it? But let’s talk about something else. Perhaps it should have been apparent after their home draw against Paris Saint-Germain that Club Brugge were not the Group A whipping boys that had been assumed when they were drawn with Manchester City and RB Leipzig. Indeed they now find themselves in a qualification spot two games into the competition after an outstanding win in Leipzig.

Christopher Nkunku might have given the hosts the lead but from then on they were second best to an invigorating Belgian side whose front three of Charles De Ketalaere, Hans Vanaken and Noa Lang were continual thorns in the Leipzig side. Vanaken would draw the visitors level in the 22nd minute off a smart cutback from De Ketalaere before Mats Rits gave them the lead they deserved just before the break.

The second half brought renewed pressure from Leipzig even if the excellent Lang was very nearly offside when he burst away on a counter.

Wednesday’s schedule

Perhaps the top match tomorrow will see the holders Chelsea travel to Juventus, just starting to recover some form with back to back 3-2 wins in Serie A. There’ll be no N’Golo Kante, Mason Mount nor Christian Pulisic for Chelsea whilst Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala will be missing for the hosts.

Meanwhile Manchester United will be bidding for their first points of the group stage against Villarreal and Barcelona will be travelling to Benfica for what could be a second placed shootout in Group E.

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