Late Rudiger Header Rescues Draw for Real Madrid Against Shakhtar, Sealing Qualification

Late Rudiger Header Rescues Draw for Real Madrid Against Shakhtar, Sealing Qualification
Champions League—Group F—Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid, Real Madrid's Antonio Rudiger in action with Shakhtar Donetsk's Mykhailo Mudryk at Stadion Wojska, in Polskiego, Warsaw, Poland on Oct.11, 2022 (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

WARSAW—A last-gasp header by Real Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger rescued a 1–1 draw against Shakhtar Donetsk and secured their place in the knockout stage, after the Ukrainian side had taken the lead in the Champions League on Oct. 11.

Real hold a four-point lead in Group F over second-placed RB Leipzig, who won 2–0 at Celtic. Shakhtar slipped one place down to third, on five points.

In the last round of games Shakhtar host Leipzig, which means that despite the draw, Real cannot finish lower than second and advance to the last 16 ahead of their next group game at Leipzig on Oct. 25.

"We found a goal that put us through to the next stage and it's satisfying. But we didn't play well," coach Carlo Ancelotti told Movistar Plus.

"We have to stay focused in the next games because we need to secure the first place to have a more favourable draw to the next stage."

Real, who lacked sharpness and their usual killer instinct, had a chance to take an early lead through Karim Benzema in the 18th minute but the Frenchman, who struck from close range, was denied by goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin.

Trubin, extremely busy between the posts in Warsaw, pulled off another great save to deny a low shot by Benzema in the 36th minute, and denied Rodrygo a minute later by stopping his shot from going inside the left post.

The Shakhtar goalkeeper was alert just before halftime to parry a dangerous long shot by Real midfielder Federico Valverde over the bar.

Trubin's heroics were rewarded when Shakhtar went ahead one minute into the second half. Bogdan Mykhaylichenko found Oleksandr Zubkov unmarked in Real's box and the midfielder nodded home into the bottom right corner.

The hosts were inches away from making it 2–0 in the 65th minute through striker Lassina Traore but his shot from inside the six-yard box bounced off the bar.

Three minutes later Zubkov, who was also on target in last week's 2–1 defeat in Madrid, had another chance but Real's Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Lunin managed to claw the ball away.

Real stepped up their attacks in the final 20 minutes but their shots continued missing the target.

Eventually, Rudiger levelled five minutes into stoppage time by taking advantage of a neat pass from Kroos to deny Shakhtar a famous victory.

"Ancelotti approached me after the game and told me we deserved to win," Shakhtar coach Igor Jovicevic told a news conference.

"He said we played well and have great chances to advance to the round of 16. He looked like he wished it for us.

"We are now sad because we lost two points, but (the team) showed the Ukrainian people that they can be proud of them. Tomorrow this point will have a great value."

The 13-times Ukrainian champions will seek to reach the knockout stage for the first time since 2018.

Real are the only team in the history of the Champions League, with a minimum of two participations, that have never been knocked out in the group phase.

By Anita Kobylinska