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Real Madrid lean on kitchen sink to avert disaster


With a few minutes left on the clock and 2-0 in Borussia Mönchengladbach’s favour showing on the score board, dark clouds were gathering over Real Madrid’s Champions League future. Zinedine Zidane’s side managed to rescue a draw in extremis, one of those that tastes like victory. A point isn’t much, but with the way things are taking two off Mönchengladbach could prove to be a lot: who knows against who and for which position in the group Madrid will end up fighting. Shakhtar’s win in the Alfredo di Stéfano left Madrid bottom of the group. There they remain but Tuesday’s results have left the panorama more open. Zidane’s side played well in the opening half hour but couldn’t find the net. Eventually the goal came through a desperate late charge, Madrid throwing themselves against the opposition. It did the trick, and disaster was averted.

Madrid also had decent spells after the break but did not hit the target, the affliction that currently besets Zidane’s side. Plenty of efforts went wide and a couple from outside the area were stopped by Yann Sommer. Marco Asensio beat the Mönchengladbach keeper but not the woodwork. The home side, on the other hand, scored with their first effort. Toni Kroos gave the ball away in midfield and the Bundesliga side punished the lapse with a rapid break finished by Marcus Thuram, the son of legendary defender Lilian who has become an excellent striker. That is Mönchengladbach’s trademark: nick possession and break hard. Thuram doubled the lead in the second half, injuring himself in the process as he contorted his body to hit the shot.

Sergio Ramos leads Madrid's late charge

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That was fortunate for Madrid, because Mönchengladbach missed the Frenchman. Still, there were more scares for the visitors, who tried to fashion something in attack without causing any serious discomfort for the home side. Sergio Ramos took the bull by the horns and moved into attack, followed swiftly by Raphaël Varane and finally Casemiro, all of the defensive players surging into the area, which I imagine Luka Jovic watched with melancholy. Madrid threw the kitchen sink at Mönchengladbach, who did not anticipate a furious late rally by a side they had halfway through the ropes. And then came the two goals, one from a Casemiro knock-down to Karim Benzema and the second from a Ramos touch-on for Casemiro. A point may seem like little from two games, but Tuesday’s could be worth much more. It kept Real Madrid in the competition.