Galatasaray were not able to withstand Rodrygo for long; the Real Madrid youngster had scored twice before seven minutes had elapsed in the Bernabéu on Wednesday night. The first, bringing a Marcelo cross that flew over the poorly positioned visiting defence to bear on his chest before finishing. The second, a stylish header also teed up by his compatriot. In both passages of play, as in the fourth goal, when he picked up a loose back pass to present Karim Benzema with a goal on a plate, served to demonstrate that Rodrygo possesses precisely that which Vinicius does not: a cool head at the business end of moves. He makes good decisions and executes them with calm. His first goal was remarkable technically: the control on his chest, the dip of his shoulder to leave a defender in his wake and a low, clinical finish. And he still had one left in him to complete his hat-trick, a poke past the keeper from Benzema’s deft pass.
Gareth Bale can therefore head off to Wales or wherever with the wind in his sails; his place in the side is now covered. On Wednesday, Bale once again left the stadium early but suffice it to say the resonance is not the same at the tail end of a 6-0 hiding as it is when your side are battling it out at 0-0. In any case, it was a decent night’s work for Madrid and for Benzema, who overtook Alfredo di Stéfano’s total of 49 European Cup goals, which needs no embellishment. It took the Frenchman a larger number of games of course but the number remains, which is what happens when you do the opposite to Bale; knuckle down, now that there is no Cristiano Ronaldo to take refuge behind. Madrid have re-established themselves in their Champions League group, although by beating the weakest side twice. They have still to travel to Brugge and host PSG.
Atlético punished by Leverkusen
In Germany, Atlético were beaten by Leverkusen due to a woeful first half and the devilish corners taken by Kerem Demirbay, who should be declared a public nuisance. In the second half, with his team already 2-0 down, Diego Simeone rectified his initial mistake by taking off Ángel Correa and Diego Costa, who did little and even less respectively. Vitolo invigorated the attack and chances started to come, including an Álvaro Morata goal that was ruled out for offside. The one that did count did not come until the end of the game, from the same source, and Morata could have had another had Lukas Hradecky not swung out a boot. With those two late efforts Atlético could have salvaged a point. But their eventual defeat came because Leverkusen punished their errors.