Shakhtar started by dominating possession, but Madrid posed more of a goal threat. Toni Kroos and Vinicius had shots saved, while Karim Benzema put a left-footed effort high and wide before defender Serhiy Kryvtsov opened the scoring after he diverted Lucas Vazquez‘s cross into his own net.
After the break, Benzema was involved in Madrid’s second, laying off for Luka Modric to thread a pass through the Shakhtar defence for Vinicius to apply the finish. The Brazilian winger grabbed his second with a breathtaking individual goal, before pulling a ball back for Rodrygo to make it 4-0, and Benzema added a fifth in added time.
Real Madrid and coach Carlo Ancelotti went into this game under genuine pressure, even this early in the season. The defeat to surprise group leaders Sheriff meant three points here were a must. That loss coming in a run of three games without a win had only added to the tension, while Shakhtar had proved last season — when they beat Madrid home and away in the group stage, making elimination a real possibility — that they were an opponent to be taken seriously.
All of that was forgotten in a seamless second half display which recalled Madrid’s comfortable, goal-heavy wins from earlier in the season. By the time Vinicius had scored his stunning second to make it 3-0, the team could breathe easy and start to enjoy themselves. The Brazilian winger was outstanding, as was Ballon d’Or candidate Benzema.
There were one or two nervous moments early on. Coach Roberto de Zerbi has made Shakhtar a team who like to keep the ball — they had 75% possession in their 2-0 defeat to Sheriff on Matchday One, and came close to that here in the opening 15 minutes. Madrid found it hard to get going before eventually finding their groove. Once they did though, it was relatively plain sailing.
Manager rating out of 10
8 — Ancelotti made three changes to the team that lost at Espanyol in LaLiga on Oct. 3: Ferland Mendy, Casemiro and Rodrygo coming in. Mendy’s return meant the coach could finally field an experienced left-back, while Rodrygo’s inclusion saw the team revert to a 4-3-3 which Ancelotti says is now the only system he’ll consider.
All those decisions paid off — Mendy with a key first-half defensive intervention; Casemiro impressing; Rodrygo on the scoresheet — and the comprehensive lead after an hour allowed Ancelotti to give minutes to the likes of Marcelo and Jesus Vallejo later.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 8 — Rarely troubled but kept his concentration to make one brilliant second-half save.
DF Lucas Vazquez, 7 — Given a hard time defensively early on by winger Manor Solomon. His delivery forced the mistake that gave Madrid the lead.
DF David Alaba, 7 — Not quite as visible in possession as defensive partner Militao. Otherwise he had little to do.
DF Eder Militao, 8 — Seemed keen to get on the ball and contribute to the team going forward. Still capable of the occasional nervous moment at the back.
DF Ferland Mendy, 7 — His first game since May, but didn’t look rusty when diving in to clear and prevent Tete from opening the scoring in the first half.
MF Casemiro, 7 — Not as eye-catching as Modric or Kroos but remains very important. He has to play whenever fit.
MF Toni Kroos, 8 — Madrid have really missed his efficient passing and tempo setting. Twice went for goal from distance in the first half.
MF Luka Modric, 8 — His assist for Vinicius, straight through the heart of the Shakhtar defence, was the classiest moment of the entire match.
FW Vinicius Junior, 9 — Caused problems from the start and took his first goal with composure. His second was a work of art, dancing through an admittedly statuesque Shakhtar defence and — the big difference this year — getting the finish spot on.
FW Rodrygo Goes, 8 — Took his goal very, very well. Still looks like a player of moments, rather than all-round performances.
FW Karim Benzema, 9 — Got better and better. His movement and combination play contributed enormously, and he deserved to score long before he eventually did.
DF Marcelo, 6 — Played the last 20 minutes on his return from injury.
FW Marco Asensio, NR — A breakdown in communication saw him get in Benzema’s way late on, much to the forward’s annoyance.
MF Eduardo Camavinga, NR — Another tidy appearance off the bench.
MF Fede Valverde, NR — Came on with the game already won and didn’t need to contribute much.
DF Jesus Vallejo, NR — His first Real Madrid minutes since 2019.