Soccer

Sheriff Tiraspol Shock Real Madrid

Champions League
Photo credit: Jose Breton AP

Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a new sheriff in town! Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova went into Estadio Santiago Bernebéu and came away with all three points. There are many superlatives one can use here for the famous win by the Moldovan minnows. It was a David versus Goliath.

Background

Sheriff advanced to the Champions League Group Stage for the first time in club history this season. They got drawn into Group D with Real Madrid, Inter Milan, and Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine). All three of those teams have a history of Champions League appearances. For that reason, Sheriff was viewed as a club that was just happy to be there to enjoy the experience. Most experts expected them to finish last in their group due to the talent difference and money spent on players.

After two games, Sheriff has two wins and leads Group D with 6 points. First, it was a 2-0 at home over Shakhtar Donetsk, which was a surprise. It was not the shocker that today turned out to be.

The Game

Sheriff opened the scoring in the 24th minute when Brazilian winger Cristiano sent in a cross that Jasur Jakhshibaev buried into the left corner. Real Madrid created some chance but couldn’t score before the half. In the second half, Real Madrid came out pressing for an equalizer. Sheriff goalkeeper Georgios Athanasiadis made several brilliant saves to hold Real Madrid at bay, but Vinicius Junior won a penalty, and Karim Benzema converted it to level the score at 1 in the 65th minute.

At this point, most people expected Real Madrid to take control of the match and win. Sheriff players continued to defend for their lives and even scored a goal in the 72nd that would be ruled offside. Still, it appeared Real Madrid was in a great position to win. Luka Modric had a great opportunity that Athanasiadis saved with his face to keep the score level. Then the moment of magic arrived.

Sheriff was finally able to keep the ball long enough to move down into the final third and win a throw. Adama Traore received the throw inside the box near the end line and spotted teammate Sebastien Thill just outside the box. Traore managed to pass it to Thill and he hit an absolute golazo first-time into the top far corner of the goal in the 91st minute. Real Madrid pushed to escape with a draw, but Sheriff held on and pulled off possibly the biggest upset in recent Champions League history. You can view the highlights here.

What’s next for Sheriff and Real Madrid?

Sheriff will face Inter Milan next while Real Madrid clashes with Shakhtar Donetsk.

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