Football Features

Bad night for Courtois: The winners and losers from Real Madrid 2-2 Club Brugge

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 20:02, 1 October 2019

Real Madrid are still winless in this season’s Champions League after being held to a 2-2 draw against Club Brugge at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Zinedine Zidane’s men were humbled in their opening game away to Paris Saint-Germain, returning home with a painful 3-0 defeat, and needed to come from two goals down to share the spoils in this one.

Club Brugge, who finished runners-up in Belgium’s top division last season, operate on a completely different plane to the 13-time European champions and were not expected to get anything from this Group A meeting but fly back with a spring in their step.

Naturally, there were individual winners and losers. Here are three of each from the encounter.

Winner: Emmanuel Dennis

There is no grander stage for an opposition forward to score than at the home of European football’s most decorated club. Real may be going through a difficult period, albeit leading La Liga, but registering a goal past them in their backyard remains a dream for many.

Emmanuel Dennis is one such individual. Going up against the formidable duo of Sergio Ramos and Raphaël Varane, whilst leading Club Brugge’s line alongside Percy Tau, could easily have been an undaunting experience. However, no such anxiety existed, at least in the opening 20 minutes.

His moment came in the ninth minute when the Belgian outfit made their first foray into Real’s penalty area. A tidy cross from Tau would find his strike partner, whose miskick nevertheless found it way past the rooted Thibaut Courtois. However, what followed was the waiting game, VAR check over and Club Brugge were in dreamland.

From that moment, they started to believe, no longer overawed – playing the occasion rather than the name. Just over five minutes before the half-time interval, Club Brugge and Dennis were bearing down on Courtois’ goal and knowing they needed to convert any opportunity that came their way, the Nigerian marksman bagged his second of the game. Incredible scenes.

Loser: Luka Modric

What a difference a year makes. Luka Modric’s 2018 may very well be looked back on as the start of a natural decline.

The 34-year-old Croatian midfielder, who swept all individual awards before him, is not quite yet over the hill but he’s clearly lost something. A shadow of his former self if you will.

Modric remains a tidy passer, though other elements of his game now seem to be ebbing away, such as alertness. It was his error that ultimately led to Club Brugge doubling their lead.

Winner: Paris Saint-Germain

Thomas Tuchel would have been keeping a close eye on events in Madrid ahead of his side’s test in Istanbul against Galatasaray and this result would have no doubt pleased him.

If there was ever an incentive to go for all three points, here it was. This opening, if they were able to capitalise on it, would hand an early advantage in Group A to the French champions.

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Loser: Thibaut Courtois

It’s worth remembering how badly Real wanted Thibaut Courtois who, in fairness, has been an exceptional goalkeeper since establishing himself. That being said, he’s not really been an outstanding success in Madrid, and this evening yielded another moment he’ll want to erase from the memory.

Not helped by his defence, Courtois was caught out by the aforementioned Dennis, whose miscued shot crept past him in what should go down as a blooper. It also meant a fifth consecutive Champions League appearance for Los Blancos in which he’s failed to keep a clean sheet. Dennis’ second later on meant in each of those outings, he’s conceded at least two or more. To further compound his misery, he was taken off at half-time with a stomach complaint. His replacement Alphonse Areola would go on to deny Dennis a hat-trick before Real pulled one back.

Winner: Simon Mignolet

A bad evening for one Belgian goalkeeper, the same couldn’t be said for his opposite number in the Brugge goal. Simon Mignolet’s time at Liverpool ended with a European Cup winners medal, but he was no longer willingly prepared to be Alisson’s understudy especially with Euro 2020 around the corner.

There’s an argument Belgium’s number one jersey is up for grabs and Mignolet was never going to be considered by Roberto Martinez if he continued to sit on the Anfield bench. Tonight was a big test and he gave a good account of himself despite giving two goals away. No moment meant more than his spectacular save to deny Varane in the 28th minute.

Loser: Ruud Vormer

Since joining the Belgian outfit, Ruud Vormer has been nothing more than a consummate professional, arguably their most influential player, so much so that he earned an international call-up by Dutch national team boss Ronald Koeman, but tonight could have ended horribly. With six minutes remaining, the Hoorn-born midfielder was shown a second yellow card, a minute later Casemiro equalised  after Sergio Ramos halved the defecit – but they were able to hold on.

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