Real Madrid fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Borussia Monchengladbach to avoid making it two defeats out of two in Champions League Group B and keep their hopes of qualifying for the knockout rounds alive.
Madrid played well for the opening half hour, and Toni Kroos had a shot from distance well-saved by Borussia goalkeeper Yann Sommer, but it was the German side who went ahead, with Marcus Thuram scoring with their only shot of the first half.
The visitors looked to respond as Marco Asensio went close either side of half time. Thuram doubled Borussia’s lead with a close-range second, before Karim Benzema pulled a goal back from Casemiro’s header and the Brazilian grabbed a dramatic, added-time equaliser.
Just as they did against Shakhtar Donetsk last week, Madrid started fairly well here, pressing Borussia high up the pitch and disrupting the Germans’ ability to play out from deep. They struggled after that but showed great spirit to fight back in the second half, in difficult circumstances.
Eden Hazard’s return from injury, 81 days later, is good news, if he can finally stay fit. Asensio’s performance was a positive, too. The Spain international winger is getting regular game time now — this was his third start in a row — and coach Zinedine Zidane clearly recognises his huge, as yet unfulfilled, potential.
Real Madrid were dangerously close here to losing four Champions League games in a row for the first time in their history. Back-to-back knockout defeats to Manchester City had been followed by last week’s bizarre 3-2 loss to Shakhtar, and this would have been an embarrassing result too were it not for Casemiro’s heroics.
The team continues to ship goals far too easily, and Zidane needs to address the vulnerable-looking defence, and fast. Madrid seem far too fragile at present in the face of adversity. Conceding one goal threatens a collapse. They can’t keep making things so hard for themselves.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — Zinedine Zidane made just one enforced change to the team that won El Clasico. Lucas Vazquez replaced the injured Nacho at right-back after excelling off the bench against Barca. You could understand the thinking. Why change a winning team?
Once again, though, Madrid struggled when they went behind, and Zidane didn’t appear to know how to react. There were no half-time changes, the coach looking to rely on the same faces to turn the match around, and he threw on Modric and Eden Hazard with 20 minutes left, ultimately successfully.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 6 — A quiet first half, beaten by a Borussia goal he could do nothing about. Busier after the break, responsible in part for the second goal, but saved really well from Plea.
DF Lucas Vazquez, 6 — Impressed, out of position, against Barca and did fine here. Couldn’t get to Thuram for his first goal. In attack, his final ball was occasionally off, too.
DF Raphael Varane, 6 — Not at his best lately. The defence as a whole looks shaky, and Varane’s form is part of the problem. At least Ramos makes up for occasional defensive lapses with his contributions in attack.
DF Sergio Ramos, 6 — Up against Thuram having faced his father Lilian earlier in his career. Started to get forward with half an hour left and was eventually rewarded with an assist.
DF Ferland Mendy, 7 — Potent going forward. A much better option than Marcelo at present.
MF Casemiro, 9 — Heroic at both ends of the pitch. A crucial intervention with 50 minutes played, chasing back to block a potential Borussia goal. His header somehow kept the ball in for Benzema to score the first, and then got the vital second himself.
MF Toni Kroos, 7 — Continued his impressive Clasico form on home soil. A shot well-saved midway through the first half. Was partly responsible for the Borussia opener, though.
MF Fede Valverde, 8 — Seems to have settled into a right-sided midfield role. Active in attack, a driving second-half run set up Vinicius to shoot wide. Showed his extraordinary energy levels when getting back to cover for a Ramos mistake late in the game.
FW Marco Asensio, 8 — One of Madrid’s best players. Asensio has started three games in a row and it shows: He is growing in confidence and influence and looks on the way to being the player he was before his long-term cruciate injury saw him out of action for almost a year.
FW Vinicius Junior, 4 — Should have done much better when putting a great second-half chance wide as Madrid chased an equaliser. Otherwise very quiet. No surprises that he was replaced by Hazard.
FW Karim Benzema, 7 — Hit the roof of the net with a cross-shot with just a minute on the clock, and then went close with another effort. Scored late on to set the comeback in motion.
FW Eden Hazard, NR — His first minutes of the season, 81 days since his last appearance against Manchester City. Wasted no time getting involved, shooting into the side netting.
MF Luka Modric, NR — Came off the bench to help the comeback but couldn’t score as he did against Barca.
FW Rodrygo Goes, NR — Played the last 10 minutes but didn’t do much.