Real Madrid 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk: Player ratings as Los Blancos extend perfect group stage start

Grey Whitebloom
Vinicius Junior scored Real Madrid's second against Shakhtar Donetsk
Vinicius Junior scored Real Madrid's second against Shakhtar Donetsk / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Real Madrid extended their perfect start to the Champions League group stage with a 2-1 victory which belied their superiority at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday night.

Shakhtar's coach Igor Jovicevic - a former player in Real Madrid’s B team - pledged that his side “are going to enjoy the game tomorrow”. Aside from Oleksandr Zubkov's successful scissor kick in the first half, the nomadic visitors had precious little success to revel in during a dominant - but wasteful - display from Los Blancos.

The Ukrainian champions took the bold approach of attempting to lure Madrid onto them, insisting on playing short, intricate passes within their own defensive third. Unable to weave their way through the forest of white shirts, the majority of the contest was played within earshot of Anatolii Trubin's goal.

By the time Rodrygo rifled a low shot through Trubin's weak wrist in the 13th minute, Shakhtar had completed just six passes outside of their own half. The Brazilian was fortunate to see the ball kindly ricochet off Taras Stepanenko back into his path on the edge of the box, but Madrid's lead was thoroughly deserved.

Trubin kept his side in the contest as Madrid treated the visiting goal like a shooting range, though the hosts were constantly reloaded by Shakhtar's scattergun passing.

Vinicius Junior doubled Real's lead inside the opening half-hour, crisply concluding a devastatingly swift team move which saw Karim Benzema and Rodrygo dovetail devilishly beforehand.

As Shakhtar tentatively began to creep out of their half, it provided Madrid with more space to surge into. On multiple occasions either side of the interval, Ancelotti's side left their guests bewitched and befuddled by a burst of slick interplay - though their final effort often lacked the same precision.

However, on the cusp of half-time, Zubkov acrobatically volleyed Shakhtar back into the game, utterly against the run of play. Bogdan Mykhaylychenko had ample room down the left to arc in a delivery which picked out Zubkov enjoying similar isolation inside Madrid's box.

Benzema was hardly alone in peppering Trubin's goal - Los Blancos forced the so-called Ukrainian Gianluigi Donnarumma into a double-digit save tally - but Madrid's lead remained misleadingly slender.

Shakhtar's highly-rated Mykhaylo Mudryk was stymied for much of the contest but squandered a rare opportunity to open his legs in the second half, delaying long enough for Ferland Mendy to pinch the ball off his twinkle toes.

By the end of a one-sided 90 minutes, the reigning European champions had rattled off an avalanche of 35 shots, the last of which was deflected onto the post - much to Marco Asensio's chagrin.

Nevertheless, Madrid moved five points clear at the top of Group F, though Shakhtar remain second halfway through the campaign with RB Leipzig and a winless Celtic rounding out the quartet.

Real Madrid player ratings vs Shakhtar Donetsk - Champions League

1. Real Madrid (4-3-3)

GK: Andriy Lunin - 5/10 - Given precious little to do and hardly at fault when up against Zubkov's body contortion.

RB: Dani Carvajal - 4/10 - Hung back when Madrid went forward but afforded Mykhaylychenko far too much space in his own half.

CB: Eder Militao - 7/10 - Exploited his explosive pace and precise timing to emphatically snuff out multiple Shakhtar attacks while they were still in their infancy.

CB: David Alaba - 4/10 - Left Zubkov criminally unmarked despite being the only bright orange shirt in Madrid's penalty area.

LB: Ferland Mendy - 7/10 - Made a potentially goal-saving challenge on Mudryk after a burst of speed to keep up with the jet-heeled winger.

CM: Fede Valverde - 6/10 - Glided across the pitch, breaking into his loping stride at any hint of open space ahead of him. Faded in the second half.

CM: Aurelien Tchouameni - 7/10 - Subtly sweeping in front of Madrid's backline.

CM: Toni Kroos - 7/10 - Invariably involved the first phase of Madrid's buildup, playing the first rather than the final pass - though both are crucial.

RW: Rodrygo - 8/10 - Tiptoed infield, leaving Valverde to provide the width while he linked with Benzema and Vinicius with lashings of glitz and guile.

ST: Karim Benzema - 8/10 - Every pass he seemed to play was devilishly spun around the corner, tantalisingly out of his opponent's reach but perfectly into the path of another white shirt.

LW: Vinicius Junior - 8/10 - Took every opportunity he had in possession to take on however many orange shirts were in his way.

SUB: Eduardo Camavinga (75' for Tchouameni) - 5/10

SUB: Marco Asensio (80' for Rodrygo) - N/A

Manager: Carlo Ancelotti - 7/10 - Furious at his side's cheap concession before the break, the only nagging negative for the Italian was the reluctance of his wingers to track back.

Player of the Match - Rodrygo (Real Madrid)