'I won't quit': Zidane defiant as Shakhtar shock Real Madrid AGAIN to leave Spanish giants on brink of early Champions League exit
Shakhtar followed up their shock 3-2 win against Real in the opening round of this season's group stage back in October with another against-the-odds victory on Tuesday night in the Ukrainian capital.
The hosts opened the scoring through substitute Dentinho in the 57th minute after he capitalized on confused defending in the Real Madrid ranks as Raphael Varane inexplicably let the ball go, allowing the veteran Brazilian to slip in behind him and finish.
3 - Raphaël Varane has made more errors leading to goals in the Champions League than any other player since the start of 2020 (3). Strange. pic.twitter.com/jGbdv90UBU— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 1, 2020
As Real pressed for an equalizer they were caught with a sucker-punch in the 82nd minute when Israeli forward Manor Solomon was allowed to carry the ball unimpeded from inside his own half before cutting inside and firing a rasping low shot past Thibaut Courtois at the near post.
The score remained 2-0 as Real suffered defeat on their return to the NSC Olympiyskiy in Kiev, which was the scene of their last Champions League triumph against Liverpool back in 2018.
Here’s his Solomon’s goal v RealShakhtar’s second of the night and Solomon’s second v Real this season in the UCLSensational goal - old school Konoplyanka vibes! pic.twitter.com/lrvxB8PdxE— Zorya Londonsk (@ZoryaLondonsk) December 1, 2020
The victory for Shakhtar meant they became only the fifth club to win both group stage matches against Real Madrid in a single Champions League campaign, after Ajax, Bayern Munich, Juventus, and Russians CSKA Moscow.
It was all the more remarkable given the Ukrainians had shipped 10 unanswered goals in their last two Champions League games against German group leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.
The result left Zidane's team third in Group B, level with the Ukrainians on seven points but behind on head-to-head record with just one round left to play.
The 13-time European champions - who were without the injured Eden Hazard and talisman Sergio Ramos in Kiev - have qualified for the Champions League knockout stages for the past 23 seasons in a row, and have never failed to get out of the group stage in each of their appearances in the competition since it was reformatted by UEFA.
Real meet Monchengladbach next week and potentially have to rely on results in the Inter Milan vs Shakhtar game going their way.
Monchengladbach, who had started the day on eight points, could have qualified as group winners if they had beat winless Inter Milan in the later kick-off on Tuesday, but fell to a 3-2 defeat.
That means all four clubs in the group could still qualify as Inter moved onto five points, two below Real and Shakhtar and three behind Monchengladbach.
The defeat in Kiev piled pressure on Zidane, who led Real to the La Liga title last season in what is his second spell as manager, but who now faces increasing scrutiny over stuttering performances in the league and in Europe.
Some fans called for the Frenchman to walk after the latest abject showing from his team.
I love Zidane soo much but I think it's time to part ways. Way too many humiliations in a season, somehow we are worse this season than 2018/19.— Rk (@RkFutbol) December 1, 2020
Others though shifted the blame to the players at Zidane's disposal as well as the Madrid board for failing to provide reinforcements during the transfer window.
If Real Madrid ends up playing in Europa League, the blame isn’t on Zidane who was promised some players & took a risk on his legacy but only on Florentino Perez who failed to keep Ronaldo, kept Bale & failed to buy players when needed. Splashed insane amounts on “Next Neymars”— A (@RMadridEngineer) December 1, 2020
Every Madrid fan knew club’s attack is broken since 2018, even Zidane had to adapt to a defensive approach to win in 2019/20. The root cause of this is the board, any manager in the world can only do this much with such an mediocre attack.— Ryan. (@Rygista) December 1, 2020
Zidane himself was defiant, telling reporters after the game: "I'm not going to resign.
"We are going to keep going. We were good in the first half. Things would have been different if we'd scored the first goal..."
"Their goal hurt us as we were playing well. We had two of three chances and hit the post."
Next up for Real is a La Liga game at home to Sevilla on Saturday, before the game against Monchengladbach which will determine whether they scrape into the Champions League knockout stages or face the embarrassing consolation prize of a spot in the Europa League.