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    Real Madrid kick off Champions League campaign with home defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk

    Xinhua | Updated: 2020-10-22 09:27
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    Real Madrid's Carlos Casemiro (2nd L) vies with Shakhtar Donetsk's Marlos Romero (2nd R) during the UEFA Champions League Group B match in Madrid, Spain, Oct 21, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

    MADRID - Real Madrid's Champions League campaign kicked off on Wednesday with a shock 3-2 defeat at home to Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk.

    Although Luka Modric and Vinicius scored second half goals for Madrid, Zinedine Zidane's side paid the price for a catastrophic first half against a rival that had travelled to Spain without 10 players who had tested positive for the coronavirus.

    With so many players out, it was understandable Shakhtar got off to a shaky start against a Madrid team which had Luka Jovic, Marco Asensio and Rodrygo back in the starting 11.

    However, after a few minutes of sterile Madrid control, Shakhtar began to get a grip on the game and in the 13th minute only Thibaut Courtois could stop Marlon, who was clean through on goal.

    The visitors took the lead in the 28th minute when Tete finished off a move started by Viktor Korniyenko and that lead was doubled five minutes later after Courtois saved from Dodo only for Raphael Varane to slice his clearance into his own net.

    Without Sergio Ramos, who was not being risked because of a knee injury, the Real Madrid defense was all over the place and Shakhtar made it 3-0 when Manor Solomon finished a flowing move three minutes before the break.

    Karim Benzema replaced Rodrygo at the break and Luka Modric threw Madrid a lifeline with an excellent individual goal, before Courtois was again in action to deny Solomon and Tete, who both looked more likely to score.

    Vinicius' persistence saw him rob the ball and then fire home Madrid's second and with over half an hour to go, it looked as if Zidane's side could turn the result around but although Fede Valverde had the ball in the Shakhtar net in injury time, the goal was ruled out because Vinicius was offside.

    The defeat comes just days after Real Madrid were beaten 1-0 at home to Cadiz in La Liga and with just three days before his men travel to play FC Barcelona, Zidane is under increasing pressure for his side to both perform and get results.

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