November 25, (THEWILL) – Real Madrid advanced to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League with a 3-0 win over Sheriff Tiraspol at the Bolshaya Sportivnaya Arena.
The Moldovan hosts still had minimal mathematical hopes of qualifying, and despite displaying some daring, they were no match for Los Blancos’ force and strategy in the end.
Sheriff started with purpose and executed their attacking strategy efficiently, bypassing Madrid’s midfield and feeding right into Brazilian winger Bruno and Malian striker Adama Traore.
The guests, on the other hand, gradually increased their pressure. Kroos took control of the game, and his parried shot served as the first warning shot, only for Benzema’s follow-up to be disallowed for offside.
Madrid made the breakthrough at the half-hour mark. Following Fernando Constanza’s harsh card for a foul on Casemiro, Alaba stepped up to curl in a free-kick that was deflected into the wall by Sheriff full-back Cristiano.
Kroos made it two with the final kick of the first half. It meant Sheriff immediately had a mountain to climb after the German’s well-placed shot from the edge of the box collided with the bar and slid past the line.
After the break, Carlo Ancelotti’s men slowed the game down, but they still had a stranglehold on the fixture. Four minutes before the hour, Benzema scored with a beautiful finish from the edge of the area.
Sheriff, to their credit, did not lie down. Sebastien Till, who scored the winning goal at the Santiago Bernabeu in September, hit the post with a cross that eluded everyone.
Their valiant attempt at the 2021/2022 Champions League will ultimately fail, but their European odyssey will undoubtedly continue in the Europa League where they may have better nights to celebrate than they did on Wednesday.
Although there were flashes of the zeal that led them to a historic victory against Madrid two months ago, they were daring on the counter after realising they needed to get beyond Real’s midfield, but their lack of quality eventually caught up with them.
Madrid simply had more experience. It was not vintage Real, but it did not have to be as Carlo Ancelotti’s side returned home as comfortable victors.