MADRID: Record European champions Real Madrid rescued their faltering Champions League campaign with a last-ditch 2-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach which lifted them into the second round.
Karim Benzema scored both goals early in the first half to save not only his team-mates but coach Zinedine Zidane who had come under increasing pressure after muddled results in both Champions League and Spanish league.
Benzema said: “We knew it was going to be a difficult match. We started the the game well, with a strong desire to win, to prove that we are the best and that we were ready to work together to make a great match. It was a good game for us, for the way we have yet to go.
Mohamed Salah became Liverpool’s record Champions League goalscorer in their 1-1 draw at Midtjylland.
Manager Jurgen Klopp’s men were already assured of top spot in Group D coming into the game and they began in perfect fashion when forward Salah ran clear and poked home after just 55 seconds.
It was the quickest goal the team had scored in the Champions League and on a night of numerous records for the much-changed visitors, Salah’s strike was his 22nd in the competition, surpassing club legend Steven Gerrard.
Klopp said: “Exceptional player, absolutely exceptional player. Since we [have] worked together obviously a lot of things [have] clicked really for all of us.
“He helps the team massively and he knows and appreciates the help of the team as well. If we only had Mo, even the incredible number of goals he got would not have been enough to be as successful as we were, so thank God others scored a lot of goals as well.
“That made this team pretty successful but Mo is a very exceptional player – I think nobody doubted it, but if you need numbers to prove it then he delivers that as well.”
Summer signing Diogo Jota forced Midtjylland goalkeeper Jesper Hansen into smart saves via a flicked effort and another drive from the angle, while Divock Origi side-footed wide from an unmarked position.
Evander rattled the crossbar with a thunderous strike as the hosts piled on the pressure in the second half and they claimed a deserved point through Alexander Scholz’s confident penalty.
Serie A side Atalanta clinched second place in the group with a 1-0 win away to Ajax who thus dropped into the Europa League.