Legia Warsaw Nearly Stuns Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo falls against Warsaw in Champions League

Going into Wednesday’s round of Champions League fixtures, I don’t think anyone really expected Real Madrid’s trip to Poland to cause them any problems. Zinedine Zidane’s squad had gone undefeated through their opening three group stage matches, and had already smashed Legia Warsaw 5-1 in the Spanish capital. Things weren’t as easy this time around as Cristiano Ronaldo and Los Blancos needed some late drama to save some pride.

The match started off perfectly for Madrid as they found the lead within the first minute. In a near empty stadium, Gareth Bale hit an absolute thunderbolt of volley from outside the penalty area into the top corner of the net. The highlight reel goal left Arkadiusz Malarz without a chance and the slaughter looked set to begin.

Raphael Varane looked set to double the visitors’ lead in the 17th minute with his flicked header from Toni Kroos’ corner, but a heroic goal line clearance from Michal Pazdan denied the Frenchman. Two minutes later, Malarz was forced into an acrobatic diving save to deny Karim Benzema’s curled effort.

As the first half passed by, Madrid began to look more and more likely to grab the next goal. Ronaldo and Bale both had a chance to smash home from close range in the 25th minute, but neither could find a way past Legia’s resilient defensive unit.

Just after the half hour mark, Madrid grabbed their deserved second goal through Benzema. A good layoff from Bale set the striker up perfectly to pass the ball into the back of the net. 2-0 Madrid.

Surprisingly the next goal of the match fell to Legia. Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe (I’m glad I just have to type that and not try and pronounce it) worked his way past one Madrid defender before hitting a wonder strike into the top corner from 18 yards out. Now, Legia’s deficit was cut to just one goal.

The second half saw Madrid come out with a similar fervor to their first half performance with Bale, Ronaldo and Mateo Kovacic all trying their luck, but none were able to beat Malarz.

This inability to finish would come back to bite them just before the hour mark with Legia finding another goal out of the blue. This time, it was Miroslav Radovic who beat Keylor Navas with a low drive into the far side-netting from 20 yards out. Madrid will be upset that they didn’t defend more aggressively and because of it they found themselves level with the Polish club.

After Radovic’s goal, Madrid pressed heavily for a third, but they lacked the nose for goal that saw them comfortably dominate the first half.

Legia looked content with a famous 2-2 draw, but in the 83rd minute, the unimaginable happened. They took the lead. Aleksandar Prijovic laid a perfect ball off for Thibault Moulin just outside the penalty area, and the Frenchman hit a picture perfect shot off the inside of the post and in to give Legia a 3-2 lead against the reigning champions of Europe.

The elation of taking the lead was dampened after just two minutes, however, as Madrid rediscovered how to find the back of the net. Daniel Carvajal set up the chance with a darting run into the box before finding Kovacic running into the penalty area with a perfectly weighted backheeled pass. The Croatian hit a composed finished into the far side-netting to save a 3-3 draw for Madrid.

Los Blancos came within inches of stealing all three points with the last kick of the match, but Lucas Vázquez’s close-range volley cannoned off the cross bar. The draw will surely feel like a win for Legia and a loss for Madrid. Despite the dropped points, Zidane’s squad are still comfortably in second place five points ahead of Sporting.

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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