Real Madrid ‘moving in the right direction’ insists Rafa Benitez despite late collapse

Real Madrid survived a nervous finish when they conceded three late goals to edge Shakhtar Donetsk 4-3 and wrap up top spot in Uefa Champions League Group A.

Cristiano Ronaldo, right, scored twice as Real Madrid won 4-3 at Shakhtar Donetsk. Gleb Garanich / Reuters
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Real Madrid survived a nervous finish when they conceded three late goals to edge Shakhtar Donetsk 4-3 and wrap up top spot in Uefa Champions League Group A.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice while Luka Modric and Dani Carvajal were also on target for Madrid who had already made sure of their place in the last 16 before Wednesday’s match at the Lviv Arena.

But just four days after suffering a 4-0 mauling at the hands of Barcelona in El Clasico, there were still worrying signs of Madrid's defensive frailties for under-pressure coach Rafael Benitez.

They were cruising at 4-0 before Shakhtar hit three goals in the last 12 minutes with stand-in captain Alex Teixeira scoring twice and fellow Brazilian Dentinho also on target.

“Today everything went our way for most of the game,” Benitez said.

“But Shakhtar are a strong and aggressive team. There’s no surprise that they have scored at home.

“We’ve conceded 10 goals in our last three matches but today we acted as a single unit, as a team and that’s a very encouraging sign.

“We’ve scored four goals away from home. I believe this shows that our club is moving in the right direction.”

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In the night’s other Group A encounter, French champions Paris Saint-Germain thrashed Malmo 5-0 to join Madrid in the knockout round.

Shakhtar, weakened by the absence of regular captain Dario Srna and full-back Alexander Kucher, who were both suspended, needed to win to have any chance of creeping into the last 16.

But Madrid were quickly into their stride. In the second minute, Modric found the unmarked Ronaldo in the area but the Portuguese star fired over the crossbar.

Ronaldo made amends just 16 minutes later when he scored with a close-range header from a fine cross by Gareth Bale.

Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was rarely troubled while Ronaldo missed a clear chance to double his team’s lead in the 30th minute.

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In the 50th minute, Ronaldo turned provider when he slipped away from the Shakhtar defence on a breakaway before Croatian international Mordic fired home from just outside the six-yard box.

Carvajal made it 3-0 for Madrid two minutes later, lobbing the ball into the net over goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov from the edge of the penalty area.

Ronaldo scored his second — and Madrid’s fourth — in the 70th minute when he was quickest to react after Yaroslav Rakitskiy had blocked his initial close-range shot.

Madrid went suddenly off the boil with Teixeira pulling a goal back from the penalty spot in the 78th minute after Casemiro brought down Taison in the area.

Dentinho scored Shakhtar’s second five minutes later before Teixeira cut the deficit even further in the 88th minute.

“We committed too many blunders and allowed Real to dominate play and score four times,” Shakhtar manager Mircea Lucescu said.

“You couldn’t imagine that we would produce such a dramatic comeback. But my team showed strong character to save our pride and the club’s reputation.”