Thirteen-time champions suffered shocking 2-0 defeat on Tuesday
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane vowed to turn the side’s fortunes around after they slumped to 2-0 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in their UEFA Champions League group stage fixture.
Substitutes Dentinho and Manor Solomon both scored second-half goals in Kiev as Shakhtar stunned the 13-time European champions again, having already won 3-2 in Madrid in October.
Shakhtar had lost their last two Group B matches against Borussia Moenchengladbach by an aggregate score of 10-0, but this victory allowed them to move above Real into second place in the group with one game remaining.
Gladbach top the section by a point, while Shakhtar now have the upper hand on Real thanks to their superior head-to-head record.
However, Inter Milan’s 3-2 win away to Gladbach not only kept the Italians alive, but also limited the damage for Real, who now know a win at home to the Germans next week will take them through, regardless of how Shakhtar fare in their last game.
Madrid have made it out of their group in every year since 1997 and so failure to qualify would be seen as a disaster, but Zidane said he would not leave the club he has so far led to three Champions League triumphs and two La Liga titles over two spells as coach.
“I am not going to resign, not at all,” said Zidane. “We are always going to have difficult moments, and we are on a bad run, but we need to keep going.”
“I have the strength needed to turn the situation around and I am going to give everything to do that, so are the players,” added the Frenchman, whose team also lost at the weekend, going down 2-1 at home to Alaves in La Liga.
“We played well and we deserved more. We just need to lift our heads up and think about the next game.”
This was Real’s seventh defeat in the last nine Champions League matches they have played without Ramos, who is currently injured.
Perhaps this game would have turned out differently had Marco Asensio scored in the fifth minute rather than turn Karim Benzema’s cross onto the post, but they went on to slump to a third defeat in their last five matches in all competitions.
Dentinho had replaced the injured Junior Moraes in the first half and the Brazilian got the opening goal just before the hour mark.
Ferland Mendy intercepted a Viktor Kovalenko ball into the box but only succeeded in laying it on a plate for Dentinho to tuck past Thibaut Courtois and in.
The Ukrainian champions then made sure of their victory on the counter-attack with eight minutes remaining as Israeli international Solomon picked up the ball on halfway and advanced unchallenged before picking his spot.
Moreover, Curtis Jones sent a depleted Liverpool through to the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.
Liverpool were without a host of key players for the visit of Ajax to Anfield in Group D, with 22-year-old Irishman Caoimhin Kelleher starting in goal in the absence of Alisson.
Teenager Jones scored the only goal just before the hour, tucking the ball in after Ajax ‘keeper Andre Onana thought he could afford to let a Neco Williams cross sail over his head.
The result was vital for the Premier League champions after their home loss to Atalanta a week ago, and it allowed them to secure a spot in the knockout phase.
“Honestly since I was at Liverpool that feels like one of the biggest Champions League nights. Without supporters in, it was the most important, most difficult, most exceptional,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told BT Sport.
They will go through as group winners after Atalanta had to come from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Midtjylland, Cristian Romero heading in a late equaliser in response to Alexander Scholz’s thumping opener for the Danes.
Atalanta are a point clear in second from Ajax, with the sides meeting in Amsterdam in their last game next week.
Two-time former European champions Porto also sealed a last-16 spot after drawing 0-0 at home to Manchester City, who were already through and are now guaranteed to top Group C.
Porto would have qualified regardless, because Olympiakos lost 2-1 to Marseille in France, with Dimitri Payet scoring two penalties in the second half to turn the game around after Mohamed Mady Camara fired the Greeks in front.
The result ends Marseille’s Champions League record run of 13 straight defeats and means they could yet pip Olympiakos to third place and the consolation of a Europa League berth.
Lukaku double, Atletico held
Real’s city rivals Atletico Madrid will also still have it all to do in their final group game after being held to a 1-1 draw at home by a weakened Bayern Munich.
Joao Felix gave Atletico the lead against a Bayern side who had already won Group A. Thomas Mueller won and then converted a late penalty to earn the defending champions a draw.
Salzburg can snatch a last-16 place if they beat Atletico at home next week, after the Austrians won 3-1 away to Lokomotiv Moscow.
Mergim Berisha scored twice in the first half for Salzburg, and Karim Adeyemi got their third goal after Anton Miranchuk converted a penalty for the railway-backed side.