Real Madrid have drawn level on points with Shakhtar Donetsk in Group B after edging past Inter Milan 3-2 in the Champions League.
Los Blancos were 2-0 up by the half-hour mark with goals from stalwarts Karim Benzema and captain Sergio Ramos, but a response from Lautaro Martinez gave the match renewed energy heading into the break, and after the restart Antonio Conte’s side had their tails up.
The Italians scented claret and pushed the hosts, eventually drawing level through Ivan Perisic, but a double substitute from Zinedine Zidane proved a masterstroke as Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo combined to claim a winner in the final 10 minutes and close in on Borussia Monchengladbach.
Here’s how the players rated at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano:
Thibaut Courtois – 6 – A few dodgy passes out from the back and nearly a head in hands moment when Barella hit the bar, but Courtois largely held his own between the sticks and produced a few clean saves to keep his side in this game.
Lucas Vazquez – 6 – A liability at times defensively, but then Vazquez is not a defender. Going forward he was dangerous as was to be expected when essentially playing a winger at the back. Occupied dangerous areas of the pitch and gave Zidane’s men real zeal on the right flank.
Raphael Varane – 6 – Strong in the challenge at times and looked to get Real playing out from the back with tempo and pace, but he let Martinez get the better of him for the Argentine’s goal, which was the only real blemish on an otherwise sturdy performance.
Sergio Ramos: 8
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Ramos is now a Real centurion, scoring his 100th goal for the club with a trademark header. With the game veering between utter madness and pure mesmerising, Ramos emerged from the scramble to produce a quite brilliant soaring header.
As Kroos whipped in a pinpoint delivery from a first-half corner, Ramos evaded De Vrij almost dismissively and towered above every player crammed into the Inter box, to guide his German teammate’s sumptuous ball past Handanovic. The Inter goalkeeper stood little chance and remained rooted to the spot.
In a test of mettle and nerve against one of football’s deadliest forwards, Ramos, at 34, was not about to let some hot-shot forward get the better of him. In the most fascinating subplot during this match, the Ramos-Martinez duel was football in its purest form and a true clash of heavyweights.
They traded leather but Ramos was dogged and determined, crunching into challenges, not recklessly, but with the precision of a Swiss watch, and commanded his backline. It was a difficult night at times, playing with an auxiliary right-back, but Ramos marked his night with three points and made Real history.
Centurion Sergio Ramos soars highest.
Only two defenders in Real Madrid’s entire history have scored 100 goals for the club:
🇪🇸 Fernando Hierro (127)
🇪🇸 Sergio Ramos (100)
Only one of them has also played for Bolton. 😅 https://t.co/2QeusJzsJw
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 3, 2020
Ferland Mendy – 6 – Defensively there were question marks, with a late challenge on Hakimi bringing about a yellow card, but by and large the Frenchman was strong in the tackle and attacked the byline well, giving Real a useful outlet going forward.
Federico Valverde – 7 – Orbited the middle of the pitch in a fluid motion and looked to link play where possible. Wasted a few glaring opportunities but overall a fine performance.
Casemiro – 5 – The Brazilian did not have a particularly good game. Between moments of brilliant defensive midfield work, breaking up play and closing down in inexorable fashion, his passing was at times very un-Real Madrid and he was a bit too hot-headed when Los Blancos needed composure.
Toni Kroos – 8 – A world class performance as expected from a world class midfielder. The German metronome oozed class and glided across the turf in elegant strides. His distribution was second to none, exemplified by his perfect corner kick to tee up Ramos and fire Los Blancos two up.
Marco Asensio – 5 – Some neat flicks and glimmers of star quality, notably a clean strike in the first half which forced an athletic save from Handanovic, but cut an isolated figure for large chunks of this contest and didn’t quite impose himself enough to tempt Zidane to keep him on the past beyond the hour mark.
Sergio Ramos has now scored 100 goals across all competitions for Real Madrid.
Absolutely obscene for a defender. 👑 pic.twitter.com/rbXh4xPnyu
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) November 3, 2020
Eden Hazard – 6 – Similarly to Asensio, Hazard showcased moments of his natural talent rather than grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and dictating the play like he used to at Chelsea. A solid enough performance for a player still finding his feet after another lengthy injury lay-off.
Karim Benzema – 8 – A brilliant performance from the Frenchman who netted his 67th goal in the Champions League tonight, and it was Benzema in microcosm. His reading of the game was instinctive, anticipating the loose pass from Hakimi, while his finish to round Handanovic was as cool as you like. He is now just four short of Raul’s record of 71, but his game was so much more than this strike alone. His link-up play was top notch, with that cushioned header to tee up Valverde a notable highlight.
Rodrygo (for Marco Asensio 63) – 7 – An inspired sub from Zidane, Rodrygo had the final say in this contest with a sublime finish to stop the rot.
Vinicius Junior (for Eden Hazard 63) – 7 – Injected an urgency and venom upon his introduction and produced the key assist for the match winner. Good job the lads passed to him!
Luka Modric (for Toni Kroos 77) – 6 – A typical late cameo from the Croat, who made the extraordinary look simple and the simple look extraordinary in his brief showing.
Samir Handanovic – 6 – The skipper let three breach his net, but really had little say in all three strikes. Produced a number of top saves to keep it at just three.
Achraf Hakimi – 4 – With a chance to show Zidane he made a mistake by selling him, Hakimi had a night to forget. The culprit for Real’s opener, producing a wayward back pass that was duly capitalised by Benzema, while he was nowhere near his best surging forward. He got himself into dangerous areas, but his final product uncharacteristically let him down at times.
Danilo D’Ambrosio – 5 – Uninspiring, D’Ambrosio has been standing in for Milan Skriniar, but Inter are certainly not conceding three times with the Slovak on the field.
Stefan de Vrij – 5 – Lost Ramos for the Spaniard’s bullet header and unable to prevent Real smashing three past in the capital. The Dutchman produced some crunching challenges, but not one of his better days.
All-time-record European Cup winners Real Madrid have just won a Champions League game for the first time in 2020.
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) November 3, 2020
Alessandro Bastoni – 6 – Inter’s best centre-back, the young defender was cool in possession and unnerved when Real swarmed the Italian club’s box. The Atalanta graduate showed some clean touches, made more clearances than any player on the pitch (three) and won more aerial duels than his centre-half teammates.
Ashley Young – 6 – Had plenty of joy down the left flank against what was essentially two wingers running at him in Asensio and Vazquez. The former Manchester United man did well to restrict Asensio but was enticed to follow Benzema which left Rodrygo free for Real’s third.
Nicolo Barella – 8 – A stellar midfield performance summed up by that assist of the season for Martinez. As Brozovic fizzed the ball into Barella’s path, the Italian swivelled midair and produced a world class flick to send Martinez through, who duly finished and got his side back into the game.
Marcelo Brozovic – 6 – Neat in possession and looked to recycle play as often as possible. Brozovic provided a calming presence in the middle of the park for Conte in an otherwise chaotic match.
Arturo Vidal – 5 – A proverbial bull in a china shop, the Chilean was sloppy and reckless at times, too eager to get to the ball without consideration for timing. Played with heart and gave his all but far too overzealous in the challenge and wayward with passing in crucial areas.
Ivan Perisic – 7 – Quiet for the majority of the game, but came alive after the restart and began to exhibit signs that he could operate as an adequate stand-in for Romelu Lukaku. He didn’t quite replicate the powerful exploits of his Belgian counterpart, but he fashioned a few solid openings and took his goal very well, cutting across the ball and nestling it into the bottom of the net.
Lautaro Martinez – 8 – A fantastic exhibition of just how good the Argentine is. His on-field battle with Ramos was a joy to watch, with the two titans locking horns in a pulsating affair. Without Lukaku, Martinez really stepped up for Conte and done his job in the final third, taking his goal exceptionally well and providing a brilliant assist to set up Perisic for Inter’s second. A complete performance against Ramos and Varane, which is no small feat.
Roberto Gagliardini (for Nicolo Barella 77) – 5 – A strange sub from Conte, who took off arguably Inter’s best player on the night in Barella, but his replacement was solid enough without producing anything spectacular.
Alexis Sanchez (for Ivan Perisic 77) – 5 – Looked lively enough but not enough penetration to leave his mark. A wasteful free-kick as well.
Radja Nainggolan (for Arturo Vidal 86) – N/A – Brought on for the final few minutes and his most notable contribution was giving the ball away almost instantaneously.