Benzema pops up to see Madrid through to last 16
Madrid march on
Another 2-1 win over Sporting Club, but this time secured after a poor performance at the Alvalade stadium. The Lisbon based side will want to quickly forget about these two Champions League games where they could easily have won both but in the end finished empty handed. Jorge Jesus' team are a decent side and maybe just lack that ability to finish things off. In truth Real Madrid were fortunate in both ties and won both games with a combination of good fortune and deadly finishing. Zidane's men are mathematically through to the next round of the competition but there is still the matter of the final group position at stake. This will be decided in the last game of the group phase at the Bernabéu on December 7 when Borussia Dortmund are the visitors. This match will no doubt lead to countless debates on the merits of finishing first or second in the group stage.
So Madrid are through but in truth they did so in a most unconvincing manner. They've performed in a very functional mode with little tension about their style of play and they can look back at both games against Sporting where late goals were enough to accrue six important group stage points. Zinedine Zidane opted for the same formation last night that served him so well on Saturday in the Calderón but the team played with less passion. Bale offered little cover for Marcelo who was constantly under pressure from Gelson Martins, Lucas Vázquez offered little assistance to the front line and Cristiano lost his patience on too many occasions as the team looked like a shadow of the side that won the Madrid derby.
One of the key failings for Sporting was their inability to finish off moves and Madrid were able to pick them off with lightning counter attacking play (the pass from Sergio Ramos and fine header from Benzema) which rocked Sporting. The goal for the Portuguese side came after a soft penalty which was conceded in a puerile manner by Fabio Coentrao (who appealed for a handball with his arms raised and the ball duly hit him on the arm). The goal invigorated the home side who at that point were reduced ten men. In the end Benzema secured the three points and added a claim for him starting for Zidane. Unfortunately for the continuity of the "BBC" it appears that Bale will be out for some time and could even miss the Barcelona game on December 3.
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