Champions League debutants Sheriff Tiraspol have stunned the thirteen-time champions Real Madrid 2-1 on Tuesday in their first Champion League tie at the newly-renovated Santiago Bernabéu.
Sebastien Thill stunning strike in the 89th minute sealed an unlikely yet historic win for the Moldovan champions, as they produced one of the biggest shocks in the history of the European football’s premier competition.
Sheriff’s Jasurbek Yakhshiboev’s first-half header had given the underdogs a surprise lead before French striker Karim Benzema equalised with a penalty. Thill’s stunner was a goal worthy of winning any contest as the Luxembourg midfielder’s half-volley sailed past Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
The hosts were dominant throughout the game as they had 76% possession and peppered Sheriff’s goal with 31 shots, 11 of which were on target. However, the visitors withstood the onslaught as they held their composure and punished their much-celebrated opponents when presented with even a sniff at the goal. Sheriff’s clinical finishing was evident as they scored twice from just three shots on goal.
Sheriff’s matchwinner Thill said, “It’s the best and most important goal of my career, that’s for sure. The side were so brave with how we played and luckily enough I was able to score a bit of a stunner. After this match, we all went crazy. There are a lot of foreigners in the club, we come from all types of countries. It’s our strength.”
It was Sheriff’s 10th Champions League fixture of the season after they had to come through four qualifying rounds of qualifying to reach the group stage for the first time in their history. Earlier this month, the Moldovans downed Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk and their latest win at the Bernabéu means that they remain the unlikely leaders of Group D. They face Italian champions Inter Milan in their next group match.
Sheriff are not exactly a recognisable name on the European stage but they have won 20 of the 22 Moldovan league titles they have contested. Tuesday’s stunning win means that they become just the second club to win on their first Champions League trip to the Bernabeu, after Arsenal’s triumph at the historic stadium in 2005-06.
In other games, six-time champions Liverpool thumped FC Porto by 5-1 at Estádio do Dragão while Atletico Madrid beat AC Milan 2-1 in the other Group B clash. In Group A, Lionel Messi scored as Paris Saint-Germain beat English champions Manchester City 2-0 while Club Brugge shocked Rb Leipzig with a 2-1 away win. Borussia Dortmund beat Sporting CP by a solitary goal while Dutch champions overcame Turkish opponents Besiktas 2-0.
Other group matches will continue later tonight.