Shakhtar shocker: Real Madrid suffer nightmare Champions League start against Covid-ravaged Ukrainian rivals
The 13-time European champions were heavy pre-match favorites against the Ukrainian side, whose coach, Luis Castro, had described his squad's preparations as a "nightmare".
Castro was without several key players after Covid-19 ripped through his squad, including star striker Junior Moraes, but his patched-up side raced into a 3-0 half time lead at the Alfredo Di Stefano.
"It's a bad moment," said Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, speaking after a post-interval comeback from his side resulted in a painful 3-2 defeat.
🔥 YES! YES! YES! WE’VE DONE IT! ⚒ SHAKHTAR DEFEATED REAL 3-2 IN MADRID! 🧡😍 INCREDIBLE! We started the new @ChampionsLeague campaign with a BIG victory! 👏🏻The next group stage game is vs Inter Milan in Kyiv on October 27th. #RealMadridShakhtar#UCLhttps://t.co/tcZWhFNejipic.twitter.com/6K0wUcG0Qr— FC SHAKHTAR ENGLISH (@FCShakhtar_eng) October 21, 2020
Tetê’s first half vs. Real Madrid by numbers:85% pass accuracy 2 successful take-ons 2 shots 1 assist 1 goal Dream stuff. 🤯🤯🤯 pic.twitter.com/sDkXfZmwCT— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 21, 2020
"At least we showed fight in the second half. The players are annoyed: they're champions, so it's natural. It's my job to find solutions because these kind of games can't happen."
Having lost 1-0 at home to Cadiz in La Liga on Saturday, Madrid might have been thankful that no fans were at their training ground to watch a stunning opening 45 minutes in which they conceded three times during the opening period for the first time since Lyon visited in September 2005.
Tete struck in the 29th minute to open the scoring with a first-time shot that went through Raphael Varane's legs and beyond Thibaut Courtois, then added a second five minutes later after Courtois parried his effort into the path of Varane for an own goal.
Manor Solomon rifled a third with 42 minutes gone after Tete had again been the instigator, providing the forward with ample time to pick his spot.
The last visitors to score three in a first half at Madrid had been Bayern Munich in February 2000, and Zidane would have implored his side to keep better tabs on Marcos Antonio, whose rampaging runs were instrumental to Shakhtar's hefty advantage.
Barcelona watching Real Madrid go down 2-0 against Shakhtar Donetsk a few days before El Clasico pic.twitter.com/FEFwqKp5Sp— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 21, 2020
Real Madrid 2 Shakhtar Donetsk 3. The sort of result that scares the European Premier League plotters and why they crave a closed competition. And exactly the sort of result and drama that has fans wanting the Champions League to continue.— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) October 21, 2020
Zidane's words to his shellshocked players clearly had an impact as former Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric scored with a superb long-range strike nine minutes after the break and Vinicius Junior pounced on slack possession to add a second just before the hour mark.
Shakhtar thought they had held out, then had their hopes seemingly shattered as Federico Valverde scored an apparent equaliser in extra-time.
There was one last twist, though, as the goal was ruled out for offside – a cruel end to a night to forget for Madrid ahead of El Clasico against Barcelona on Saturday.
The result meant that Madrid lost at home to a Ukrainian side for the first time in their history and began their campaign bottom of the table ahead of tests against Borussia Monchengladbach and Inter Milan in Europe.
For all the determination they showed to right a dreadful start, Madrid's scorers were realistic about the quality of their performance.
Shakhtar were missing TEN first-team players in their game against Real Madrid due to positive coronavirus tests.They still won 🤯 pic.twitter.com/pVEoPm7rQ2— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 21, 2020
Real Madrid have lost four of their last seven UCL home matches. They had lost four out of 54 UCL home matches before this, dating back to Cristiano Ronado’s first season in 2009-10 😳 pic.twitter.com/AxVE5p1hYY— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 21, 2020
"We weren't good enough," rued Modric. "We played better in the second half but it wasn't enough.
"We know that Shakhtar are a good side and we didn't underestimate them. Simply put, we didn't start well, they scored the first goal and we let our heads drop."
Forward Vinicius Junior echoed the Croatia star. "We didn't play well," he conceded. "We're all in this together but it's tough to talk today.
"Nobody did things well and we couldn't do what the boss asked us to."
Castro was understandably thrilled with a victory that might have been as much of a turn-up to him as it was to startled viewers around the world.
Real Madrid fall apart without Ramos. His presence on the pitch is immense pic.twitter.com/OqkRIwvoTc— Atharv ⚡ (@Ronaldo4life19) October 21, 2020
"We knew what difficulties we could expect and planned our strategy accordingly," he said.
"The players have done everything absolutely fantastically. We were a united team from the first until the last minute.
"The first half was our best this season. We created chances and we could have scored more in the second half as well.
"When the score was 3-2 we had to defend even more and thought, 'oh, let this game end as soon as possible'. Overall, we showed our quality in terms of tactics and skill."Also on rt.com 'We know the real reason': Fans claim Mesut Ozil dropped for social justice comments as star hits out at Arsenal over squad snub