Champions Real Madrid power on with easy win against Shakhtar

Spaniards make light work of Ukrainians to take five-point group lead

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Real Madrid established a stranglehold at the top of their Champions League group with a 2-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, which should have been far more emphatic.

Carlo Ancelotti's reigning champions have a 100 per cent record in the competition and made light work of their Ukrainian opponents, who had to travel 10 hours to get to Madrid because of the war in their homeland.

Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior's goals made the difference but the record 14-time winners were dominant and only profligate finishing - and fine goalkeeping from Anatoliy Trubin - stopped them from racking up a bigger score.

After three games Madrid have a five-point lead over second-placed Shakhtar, with RB Leipzig third after beating Celtic 3-1 in the other Group F match.

Karim Benzema led the line again on his second match back after injury and although he was still rusty, it didn't matter on a mostly comfortable evening.

Rodrygo broke the deadlock with a low effort from outside the area, curled home after 13 minutes. He was not punished for a loose first touch as the ball bounced back to him and stroked it past Trubin.

Benzema, sniffing around for a goal to ignite his season, fired in a low effort which Trubin parried, as Madrid pinned the visitors back.

Vinicius, who left two Shakhtar defenders for dead by scooping the ball through the gap between them and darting through to delight the Santiago Bernabeu, soon added the second.

The Brazilian put the finishing touches on an intricate team move, with Benzema feeding Rodrygo, to caress the ball into the bottom corner.

Vinicius had another shot cleared off the line by Valeriy Bondar, with Madrid angling for a third to put the game out of sight, while Benzema slashed a volley off-target.

The overworked Trubin denied Vinicius and then Benzema in quick succession as Madrid poured forward, determined to right the wrongs of their draw with Osasuna on Sunday, the first points they have dropped all season in any competition.

However they were caught on the counter in the 39th minute, with Shakhtar's first attack of note resulting in a goal.

The unmarked Oleksandr Zubkov met Bogdan Mykhaylichenko's cross with an acrobatic finish to give the visitors a glimmer of hope.

Trubin kept Rodrygo at bay in the second half with another good save and Vinicius should have hit the target after the ball broke to him near the penalty spot.

Madrid's inability to kill off the game led to a couple of nervy moments, but they maintained the best chances and Benzema was frustrated once more by the indefatigable Trubin, while Marco Asensio hit the post at the death.

Updated: October 05, 2022, 9:55 PM
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