Karim Benzema wrote a new Champions League record on Tuesday night but it was not enough to prevent Sheriff Tiraspol’s shock win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The story of the night, and possibly of the Champions League this season, was Sheriff’s victory as they took the lead twice to humiliate Real Madrid in front of their own fans and get their second group stage win.
When the Champions League draw was made, nobody gave first-timers Sheriff a chance, placed in a group alongside Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk but after two games they top the group with a perfect record, three points clear of the rest.
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Understandably, Real Madrid were in full control of the game, but it was Sheriff who took their chances, netting with two of their four shots (three of which hit the target). The first came through Jasurbek Yakhshiboev, as Sheriff launch a quick attack, moving from one end of the pitch to the other in a very short space of time. Real Madrid were opened up by one ball through the middle and beaten by an excellent cross from Cristiano for Yakhshiboev to head in past Thibaut Courtois.
As the game went on and time was starting to run out, Real Madrid finally got their key opportunity to equalise as Vinicius Jr drew a foul in the area from Edmund Addo, leaving the referee (and VAR) very little option but to point to the spot. What happened next was an inevitability as Benzema stepped up and converted from the spot for his ninth goal of the season across all competitions, and 16th total goal involved in just nine matches.
On top of being the equaliser, the goal was also a landmark moment for Benzema for two reasons. First, he moved up to fourth outright on the list of the Champions League’s all-time top goalscorers, one ahead of Real Madrid legend Raul with his 72nd goal and now only three behind Robert Lewandowski (Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are on 135 and 121 respectively).
But perhaps even more impressively, Benzema achieved a feat neither Ronaldo nor Messi had been able at the point of his scoring, in netting in the 17th consecutive Champions League season. He would soon be joined by Messi who netted his first goal for Paris Saint-Germain in their 2-0 win over Manchester City, but Benzema will always be the first.
Many would have then expected Real Madrid to push on and get the win, potentially by a few goals, making it appear more comfortable than it actually was. But it was Sheriff who would get the third and final goal of the game, as Sebastien Thill sent an absolute rocket first-time into the top corner, leaving Courtois no chance.
The goal not only had Sheriff players, staff and fans celebrating but also those watching around the world, witnessing what could be one of the biggest Champions League shocks in history. Naturally, there was a lot of talk about the failed European Super League that Real Madrid were a part of.
In their first ever #UCL season, FC Sheriff won their first game against Shakhtar Donetsk and have now beaten the 13-time Champions League winners Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
There’s a new Sheriff in town. 😍 pic.twitter.com/BpgMt1jhKz
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 28, 2021
Only teams to have beaten a Real Madrid side managed by Carlo Ancelotti in the UCL
🇩🇪 Borussia Dortmund
🇩🇪 Schalke 04
🇲🇩 FC Sheriff Tiraspol
This is the first group stage game he's lost in charge of Los Blancos.
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) September 28, 2021
Fernando Costanza's for FC Sheriff against Real Madrid:
58 touches (most)
9 ball recoveries (most)
8 duels won
8 final third entries
7 possession won in defensive third
2 aerial duels won
What a performance in a historic win. 🤩 pic.twitter.com/wVTp5NQ7No
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 28, 2021
Sheriff's Sebastien Thill has a tattoo on his leg which shows him dreaming of the Champions League.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 28, 2021
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 28, 2021
Sheriff defeating Real Madrid is just another reason why the Super League was always a horrendous idea, you’d never be able to see beautiful things like this.
— Mod (@CFCMod_) September 28, 2021
Sheriff Tiraspol FC have just beaten Real Madrid away from home.
Remember the European Super League? LOL
— HLTCO (@HLTCO) September 28, 2021
One of biggest shocks in Champions League history: Moldovan minnows FC Sheriff Tiraspol blast 89th minute winner to stun 13-time champion Real Madrid. Moldovans squad is worth $13.61M. This is why there should never be a Super League 🙌pic.twitter.com/6kBTXbCF6a
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) September 28, 2021
'European Super League' 😂
— Colin Millar (@Millar_Colin) September 28, 2021
just one reason why the European Super League was an awful idea https://t.co/Ly3fTtZp4b
— Tom 🏳️🌈🇬🇧🇪🇺 (@tom_a_c) September 28, 2021
Sheriff Tiraspol have just shown why the European Super League idea was awful.
Just magical!!! Wow#ucl #
— Thefootballadam (@thefootballadam) September 28, 2021
The three remaining European Super League teams:
• Juventus are 10th in Serie A
• Barcelona are 6th in La Liga and got hammered by Bayern last week
• Real Madrid just lost at home to Sheriff Tiraspol
Could be going better.
— GoalScorer Challenge ⚽️ (@GoalscorerC) September 28, 2021
As well as leading Group C, Sheriff are the first team to win their opening two Champions League matches since Leicester did so in 2016/17 en route to a quarter-final finish.