Real Madrid left plenty to be desired in their UEFA Champions League Group A match when they were forced to battle back from two goals behind against a spirited Club Brugge at the Bernabeu.
Zinedine Zidane’s side have started their European campaign this season poorly, having just one point after two games now – and even that proved a challenge on a difficult night against their Belgian opponents.
For Club Brugge, coming into the match with no expectations but a desire to make a mark which would reverberate worldwide, they certainly did as such. Nigerian striker Emmanuel Dennis netted twice without reply in the first half, each comically bizarre in their own right.
Dennis opened the scoring inside 10 minutes, when the 21-yearold forward first miscontrolled a cross from Percy Tau, ending up wrongfooting Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and seeing the ball roll into the net. Initially disallowed for offside, the goal was eventually awarded after a lengthy delay involving the video assistant referee (VAR).
For his second of the evening, coming around five minutes before the break, the Nigerian stumbled his way into the box before chipping Courtois, despite the Brugge forward almost losing his footing.
There wasn’t too much grace about his goals, but the 21-yearold didn’t care. Emotions were running wild, and the Brugge forward couldn’t help poking a bit of fun at his opponents and their supporters, celebrating the goal with Cristiano Ronaldo’s iconic celebration – a sight many of the fans inside the Bernabeu wished they were still seeing from the man himself.
Real Madrid unsurprisingly left the field at the interval booed by their fans following an embarrassing first 45 minutes showing. Zidane needed a reaction from his players, and took the decision to hook Courtois in favour of Alphonse Areola for the second half.
Whether the change of goalkeeper truly made an impact, it can’t really be confirmed, but Real Madrid did respond. Captain Sergio Ramos headed the Spanish giants back into the contest from Karim Benzema’s cross – only for the goal to be ruled out for offside, and then overturned once more by VAR.
Club Brugge sought to hold on for a memorable victory in the Spanish capital, but could do little when a second bookable offence saw their own captain Ruud Vormer dismissed in the 84th minute, and Real Madrid equalised from the resulting free kick – Casemiro on hand to head in Toni Kroos’ delivery.
It was still a disappointing result for the Spanish side, who after their 3-0 loss to PSG in the first game, sit bottom of Group A, but it at least saved a few of the blushes that would have come from a defeat. Improvements are necessary for Zidane though, going forwards.