Union Berlin 2-3 Real Madrid: Player ratings as late Ceballos strike spares Blancos blushes

  • Dani Ceballos struck in the 89th minute to seal victory
  • Joselu netted twice before Alex Kral's late goal gave Madrid a scare
  • Carlo Ancelotti's side finish the group stage with a perfect record

Ceballos was the hero
Ceballos was the hero / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Real Madrid ended the Champions League group stage with a perfect record as they found back to seal a 3-2 victory over Union Berlin on Tuesday.

Kevin Volland struck in the first half for the hosts but two Joselu goals after the break appeared to decide the narrative of the game before a hectic final five minutes left those in attendance unsure where the points would end up.

Alex Kral fired home from range with five minutes to go and appeared to have secured a famous point for the hosts, but Dani Ceballos had other ideas as his deflected effort dribbling into the bottom corner and sealed all three points.

How the game unfolded

Inside the first minute, Kepa Arrizabalaga justified his return to the team with an excellent save to deny Kevin Behrens from near-enough point-blank range. Nacho Fernandez also had to clear off the line just seconds later, although that play was soon pulled back for offside.

Jude Bellingham came close to opening the scoring with some delightful play inside the box. The Englishman flicked his way towards goal but his powerful effort was well kept out, before Joselu struck the top of the crossbar with a header as both sides threw everything forward in search of the opener.

Madrid soon took control of proceedings and boasted over 80% possession by the half-hour mark, although clear-cut chances proved hard to come by as Union defended deep and frustrated the visitors.

Robin Gosens's sloppy back-pass nearly handed Joselu the opener shortly before half-time, but the real gift came shortly after when Diogo Leite handled the ball in the box.

Up stepped Modric, but the Croatia midfielder's effort was repelled by Frederik Ronnow, and Madrid were made to pay immediately after as Volland went straight down the other end and fired the Germans ahead heading into the break.

Lucas Vazquez's fizzing volley brought an exciting start to the second half, with Ronnow maintaining his good form to keep the shot out, and the stopper also made himself big to deny a Rodrygo header shortly after.

Ronnow was powerless to deny Joselu's header just moments later, however, with the towering striker thundering home from a Rodrygo cross, and Joselu would add a second in the 73rd minute to change the narrative of the game.

Union responded well and Kral struck from range with five minutes to go, but Ceballos sent an effort trickling over the line moments later to seal his side's perfect group record.

Real Madrid player ratings (4-3-1-2)

Dani Ceballos, Joselu Mato
Joselu made an impact / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga - 6/10 - A huge save early on. Couldn't do a whole lot about Volland's goal.

RB: Lucas Vazquez - 6/10 - Did his best to get into some dangerous positions but couldn't always find the final ball.

CB: Nacho Fernandez - 5/10 - Pushed far too high with his failed attempt to stop the opening goal. A strange decision.

CB: David Alaba - 4/10 - Got his feet all wrong as he failed to clear the ball for Volland's opener. Another disappointing performance from the Austrian, who appears to have lost the trust of a lot of fans.

LB: Fran Garcia - 6/10 - A mixed performance from Garcia. Got into some nice positions and played a handful of good balls, including for Joselu's second, yet it always felt as though there was something missing.

DM: Luka Modric - 6/10 - He might not be good at penalties, but his passing range is unrivaled and Modric proved that with his sumptuous ball for Joselu's second goal.

CM: Dani Ceballos - 8/10 - Some really fluid moments to keep Madrid ticking and popped up with the crucial goal late on. Got a bit of luck with the deflection but undoubtedly earned it.

CM: Federico Valverde - 6/10 - Played in a deeper role and clearly enjoyed a performance based more around passing than energy.

AM: Jude Bellingham - 6/10 - Put himself about and was unfortunate not to grab the game's first goal early on. Picked up a needless booking.

ST: Rodrygo - 7/10 - Brought real energy to Madrid's attack as he buzzed around in search of space. Unfortunate not to manage his own goal but popped up with a crucial assist for the equaliser.

ST: Joselu - 8/10 - Two big goals when Madrid needed him most. Can't ask for more.


SUB: Toni Kroos (46' for Valverde) - 7/10

SUB: Antonio Rudiger (71' for Alaba) - 6/10

SUB: Brahim Diaz (80' for Rodrygo) - N/A

SUB: Nico Paz (90' for Ceballos) - N/A

Subs not used: Lucas Canizares (GK), Andriy Lunin (GK), Vinicius Tobias, Ferland Mendy, Mario Martin, Gonzalo Garcia


Carlo Ancelotti - 6/10 - Questions will be asked over Ancelotti's lack of rotation but there can be no doubting his ability to motivate his team. Another impactful talk in the dressing room.

Player of the match: Joselu (Real Madrid)