Teenage sensation Rodrygo’s ascension continued at Real Madrid on Wednesday when his hat-trick helped earn a 6-0 Champions League humbling of awful Galatasaray.
Los Blancos appeared stung by the weekend’s dull goalless draw with Real Betis and immediately burst out the blocks. They were 2-0 up by seven minutes, courtesy of the aforementioned forward’s composed left-footed finish and well-placed header – these efforts making him the youngest-ever Brazilian goalscorer in the competition’s history at 18 years and 301 days.
The video-assistant referee judged a late Steven Nzonzi challenge on Toni Kroos to be inside the penalty box and skipper Sergio Ramos nonchalantly chipped in. A sloppy mistake from Japan full-back Yuto Nagatomo on the stroke of half-time then allowed Rodrygo to centre for Karim Benzema, his tap-in allowing him to become the second player to score in 15-consecutive Champions League seasons.
The French striker’s 50th goal for Madrid in the tournament was handed to him on a plate by Dani Carvajal in the 81st minute, before Rodrygo claimed the match ball in second-half injury time when sliding a low shot in. Here are the talking points from Santiago Bernabeu as Los Blancos took a grip on second spot in Group A:
PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
There was a delightful synchronicity to this display.
Madrid cut loose and provided belated lashings of joy to the Bernabeu faithful from this staccato European campaign.
That’s now five goals in six senior run-outs for Rodrygo. For context, fellow Samba starlet Vinicius Junior has the same return in 41 matches.
A star is born and a, genuine, Cristiano Ronaldo-successor anointed.
At the other end of the age scale, Benzema’s remarkable longevity took in two more landmarks. This was past and future for Madrid’s attack.
This frisson up top was completed by a brighter night for €100 million summer arrival Eden Hazard. Upon his 68th-minute removal, a promising present was evidenced by him leading the way in dribbles and no-one producing more key passes.
Now, to see this on a more-regular basis…
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Proponents of Zinedine Zidane’s return to Madrid will point to sizeable wins in two-successive home fixtures.
Yet the Los Blancos faithful must have learned to curb their enthusiasm by now. The weekend’s deflating goalless stalemate with Betis came at a, seemingly, opportune moment in the wake of earlier slips by Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, plus October 31’s affirming 5-0 dismantling of Leganes in La Liga.
18y 301d - Rodrygo has become the second youngest player to score a #UCL hat-trick, after Raul against Ferencvarosi in October 1995 (18y 113d). Hero.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 6, 2019
The return to action after the international break was a 1-0 loss at Mallorca. Wins against Sevilla and Osasuna were followed by draws versus Atletico Madrid and Club Brugge.
What awaits at Eibar?
NO GALA EVENT
There was plenty to admire about Madrid and admonish about Gala.
A third loss in their last four matches, in all competitions, came with a whimper. The hosts didn’t even need to be particularly good to inflict this evisceration.
But this is not a recent problem. Gala have prevailed in just one of their last 13 CL fixtures, while you have to go back to 2013 for an away win in the tournament.
They won’t be missed.
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A brilliant young Brazilian stole the headlines at the Bernabeu – but it was Rodrygo not Vinicius Jr who fizzled in Real Madrid’s 6-0 thrashing of Galatasaray.
A Champions League hat-trick is not something many players can lay claim to, least of all an 18-year-old, making it five goals in six Los Blancos appearances.
Real have lurched from the resplendent to the ridiculous this season, but this display was rooted firmly in the former thanks to a roaring start, initiated by Rodrygo.
The teenage tyro signed from Santos wasted little time in making his mark, controlling a wayward Marcelo cross before drilling low past the despairing dive of Fernando Muslera. That was the fourth minute. In the seventh the Brazilian master and student paired up again, Rodrygo heading in a pinpoint cross from the left-back.
The points were sealed by the 14th minute when VAR awarded Los Blancos a penalty after Steven Nzonzi trod on Toni Kroos, fractionally, on the 18-yard line. Sergio Ramos stepped up and cheekily chipped in.
It was four by half-time as the energetic Rodrygo broke into the box and squared for Karim Benzema to easily sweep in. He had an even easier finish late in the day when he tapped in Dani Carvajal’s cross. Benzema then returned the earlier favour as he slipped in the boy from Brazil, who stepped closer to manhood by the final whistle.
Here is how we rated the Real players:
Thibaut Courtois 6: The first 17 minutes ensured he could have spent the entire game patrolling his penalty area chasing butterflies. A bystander apart from smart save with his feet from Lemina’s header.
Daniel Carvajal 6: Another who had an easy ride, though he bombed forward and reached Modric’s fine pass to serve up an easy second for Benzema.
Raphael Varane 6: An easy evening but did what he had to with aplomb, leading Los Blancos in clearances (5). Blocked Omer Bayram’s effort brilliantly.
Sergio Ramos 6: Love him or hate him, his penalty was showmanship of the highest order. Passing was perfect, although the sedate nature of the contest allowed for that.
Marcelo 7: Showed usual flair in attack, providing both assists for Rodrygo, though the first was a wayward cross the youngster did well to bring under control. Zero contribution in defence, though to be fair there was no need.
Casemiro 6: There was little requirement of his usual cut and thrust as Gala gave up harrying early, though his metronomic 95.7 pass accuracy led Real’s outfield players bar Ramos.
Toni Kroos 7: Lively from the off as his incisive runs and laser-beam passes opened the visitors up. Was too quick for Nzonzi to earn the penalty for third goal. Denied one himself by Muslera’s save.
Federico Valverde 5: Passed effectively with sting taken out of the game, but did little to stand out.
Rodrygo 9: What a dream home Champions League debut for the teenager, a terrific strike giving Real an early lead. He then rose to flick in Marcelo’s pinpoint cross and laid fourth on a plate for Benzema. Capped a dazzling display by poking in a third.
Karim Benzema 8: Quieter than he has been this season, at least in the first half, but still popped up with two tap-ins courtesy of Rodrygo’s hard work, and then Carvajal’s precise centre. Played in Rodrygo for hat-trick goal.
Eden Hazard 8: A bundle of energy Galatasaray tried – and failed – to contain, with persistent fouling something we were used to witnessing at Chelsea. Improving with every game, which will be a huge boost to a side so inconsistent.
Ferland Mendy 6: Determined to show attacking prowess as he was afforded 49 minutes. Looked lively down the left.
Luka Modric 6: Brought on to keep a tight leash on the Turkish side. Didn’t have to break sweat though his pass to Carvajal was sublime.
Isco 6: Nearly an instant impact as his glancing header was touched onto the bar by Muslera.
Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane admitted an opportunity had been missed to move clear at the top of La Liga – but remained positive after a frustrating goalless draw against Real Betis at the Bernabeu.
Barcelona’s surprise defeat at Levante earlier on Saturday had given Los Blancos the chance to leapfrog their rivals.
However, after Eden Hazard’s early effort had been ruled out for offside, the home side were unable to make the most of their superior possession as Betis battled to a hard-earned point.
Madrid are level on 22 points with Barca, but remain second, a point in front of Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, who drew 1-1.
“We lost two points, it was an opportunity to add more, but I stay with the positive,” Zidane said.
“There is also a rival and they have also put us in difficulties, which is normal.”
The Real Madrid head coach told a press conference: “It is true that we have all lost points, but this is the best League in the world and there is is no easy game, it does not exist.
“Every team can get you into difficulties and that is why it is the best league in the world. It is not easy.”
Real Madrid had swept past Leganes on Wednesday night, but Zidane stressed: “We are not going to always score five goals.
“We know that when we create chances, that is the most important thing.
“Our rhythm, intensity and overall game were all perfect, we just have to put the ball in the net.”
Zidane added: “We will continue and it will be a very difficult league until the end and that is what that there is.
“All teams have lost points, but as I said there are no rivals against which you win easily and you have to accept it.
“We must do more to earn more victories, but we are not doing so badly.”
Zidane, though, felt his side should have been awarded a penalty during the second half.
A low cross looked to have hit Zouhair Feddal on the hand as he made a sliding challenge – but the appeals were turned down following a VAR review.
“I saw a hand, but it is the interpretation of the referee, but we must not look much to that,” Zidane said.
“It is not going to change anything, we know what happened, because I saw the hand and you also have to respect what the referee says.
“We have had a good attitude, we have made a good game, but we missed the goal so we have to keep going.”
For Real Betis, it was an unexpected bonus point which edges them away from the bottom three.
Head coach Rubi said at a press conference: “The feeling I have is sensational.
“I think the players have made an enormous effort of concentration, tactical work and intensity.
“We drew the match and also had some chances to score a goal, so we leave very happy and very satisfied.”
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