Antonio Rudiger puts body on line as Madrid leave it late to draw against Shakhtar Donetsk

Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:20180602_FIFA_Friendly_Match_Austria_vs._Germany_Antonio_R%C3%BCdiger_850_0711.jpg

Real Madrid ensured their unbeaten start to the 2022-23 Champions League season continued against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday (11 October) as they secured a 1-1 draw in the closing seconds of the game.

The result leaves them atop Group F, with three wins and a draw so far, and it also hands them a berth in the last-16.

Madrid need a win or draw in their next match against RB Leipzig to guarantee their spot as group leaders ahead of the draws, and that should not be hard for them given their performances in recent months and weeks.

The defending champions found themselves behind a minute into the second-half after Oleksandr Zubkov put his side ahead, and they kept knocking at the door for the remainder of the game.

Madrid showed countless times last season on their way to the finals that they cannot be ruled out of any game until the final whistle is blown, and they proved so again at the Polish Army Stadium, with Antonio Rudiger heading in Toni Kroos’ cross in the 95th minute to draw his side level.

The goal came at a cost to the German centre-back as he was left bloodied after suffering a blow to the face from Shakhtar goalkeeper Anatolii Trubin as he headed the ball in.

Rudiger was left with a big cut and needed 20 stitches around his left eye afterwards, but he has since returned to action, wearing a protective mask as he came off the bench for last weekend’s El Clasico victory over Barcelona.

The goal, its timing and how it came about demonstrates who Madrid are, and they are definitely one of the huge favourites to win the Champions League this season.

Their La Liga title defence has also gotten off to an impressive start, with eight wins and a draw in their opening nine games, and they will be keen to win it all this term after missing out on only the Copa del Rey in 2021-22.

Madrid are, without a doubt, the team to beat in Spain and Europe this season, and it will take a lot for any team to get the better of them in the Champions League knockout stages.

Shakhtar could be left to rue dropping two points at the death against the reigning champions going forward.

The Ukrainian Premier League side are third in the group, a point behind Leipzig, and they may need to win their next two games if they want to play in the last-16.

Igor Jovićević’s side are second in their league table after six games, and they will be hoping to win the title this term after none was awarded last season after the 2021-22 campaign was terminated as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

A win over Scottish reigning champions Celtic in their next UCL game will keep their chances of qualification for the round of 16 alive, and the final game of the group between them and the Bundesliga team could decide who ends up in second place.