Brilliant Vinicius powers Real Madrid past Shakhtar

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Vinicius Junior delivered a brilliant performance with a brace and an assist to power Real Madrid past Shakhtar Donetsk 0-5 in Group D of the 2021/22 Champions League on Tuesday night at the NSC Olimpiyskiy in Kiev, Ukraine.

After a stale opening half-hour, things opened up for the Spanish visitors thanks to a Shakhtar own goal. Vinicius then took over by scoring two fantastic goals and then setting up Rodrygo Goes for the fourth goal, followed by a late Karim Benzema strike, helping Real Madrid snap their three-match winless streak in all competitions.

Carlo Ancelotti opted for Lucas Vazquez at right-back and Ferland Mendy, making his first appearance this season, at left-back. Meanwhile, Rodrygo, always stellar in Champions League outings, got the nod up top with Brazilian countryman Vinicius and Benzema.

While the opening half had a very good tempo to it, the two sides lacked precision in the final third, making goalscoring chances few and far between. It took an own goal for the seal to be broken, as a cross swung in from Lucas Vazquez for Benzema was instead mistakenly toed into the Shakhtar net by defender Sergey Krivstov to gift Real Madrid a 0-1 lead.

Shakhtar‘s defensive woes continued into the second half and allowed Los Blancos to jump ahead 0-2. Benzema pounced on a ball in front of Krivstov and fed a ball across to Modric, who exquisitely one-timed a pass into Vinicius and the Brazilian polished off the slickly played triangle with a goal.

With the two-goal advantage, Real Madrid could play to their liking and Vinicius scored arguably his best goal of the season by collecting a pass and dancing past four defenders before firing in for a 0-3 lead.

Vinicius then got to play the role of playmaker, this time receiving a pass from Benzema and cutting back to Rodrygo, whose sweeping finish rolled into net to extend the advantage to 0-4.

At the other end, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois didn’t have too much to do, but did come through when called upon, including a double save from Marlos midway through the second half.

The four-goal cushion allowed Ancelotti to make some changes and give Marcelo some minutes, with Mendy giving way, followed later by Eduardo Camavinga, Marco Asensio and Fede Valverde for Luka Modric, Rodrygo and Toni Kroos.

Benzema then put a bow on the night in stoppage time with an excellent finish off an Asensio pass flighted in to round out the 0-5 scoreline.

Match Sheet:

0.- Shakhtar Donetsk: Trubin; Dodo, Marlon, Kryvtsov, Ismaily (Korniienko, min. 75); Maycon, Alan Patrick (Stepanenko, min. 79); Tete (Marlos, min. 46), Pedrinho, Solomon (Marcos Antonio, min. 46); Fernando (Mudryk, min. 74).

5.- Real Madrid: Courtois; Lucas Vazquez, Militao (Vallejo, min. 87), Alaba, Mendy (Marcelo, min. 69); Casemiro, Kroos (Fede Valverde, min. 78), Modric (Camavinga, min. 78); Rodrygo (Asensio, min. 78), Benzema, Vinicius.

Goals: 0-1, min. 37: Krivstov (og); 0-2, min. 51: Vinicius; 0-3, min. 56: Vinicius; 0-4, min. 64: Rodrygo; 0-5, min. 91: Benzema.

Referee: Srdjan Jovanovic (Serbia).

Yellow cards: Marcos Antonio (Min. 46) for Shakhtar.

Red cards: None.

Stadium: NSC Olimpiyskiy.

Attendance: 23,000.

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