Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari offered no excuses after his Spanish giants were floored 3-0 by CSKA Moscow.
Real had already qualified for the Champions League last-16 as Group G winners, but that should not mask a poor performance, even if it was by a much-changed team.
Despite CSKA’s victory, though, they could not secure third place in the group and Europa League qualification after Viktoria Plzen took that spot by beating Roma 2-1.
And that was rough justice on the Russian side, whose European season came to an end on a night of otherwise unbridled joy.
It was Real’s heaviest European home defeat and their first home reversal in the Champions League group stage for nine years.
Goals by Fedor Chalov, Georgi Schennikov and Arnor Sigurdsson secured an emphatic CSKA success.
“I’m down because although we were through, we wanted to finish the group with a win, and we didn’t do that,” Solari said.
“We started the game well, especially the first 30-35 minutes, but we weren’t good enough in either box and they punished us.
“I didn’t like what I saw in the second half.
“It is my job to get the side ready, and I picked a young group today, but this allowed them to get some minutes into their legs and gain experience.”
Solari’s CSKA counterpart, Viktor Goncharenko, added: “It’s sad to say the least to beat Real Madrid, earn seven points, but finish bottom and get eliminated from Europe.
“But we only have ourselves to blame. In any case, we’ve made sure we will spend the holidays in a great mood after tonight’s win.”
And scorer Schennikov said: “We were full of positive emotions at the final whistle, but felt such a huge disappointment after hearing the result in Plzen.
“We were hoping for Roma to at least draw, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“Still, our young team have got such important experience in this UEFA Champions League, and it’s certainly good for its future.”
And Real did not settle consistently during a first half that reached its conclusion with CSKA stunning their hosts by scoring two goals during a vibrant six-minute spell.
Chalov struck for the first in brilliant fashion, beating home goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with a superb shot into the corner of the net.
And with just two minutes left before the break, the visitors struck again as neat approach work left the Real defence bemused, and although Courtois’ sharp goalkeeping averted the initial danger, Schennikov bundled a rebounded shot into the net.
Solari reacted immediately, making an interval switch as he sent on Bale for Karim Benzema. Kroos also joined the action within the hour mark, replacing Marcos Llorente, but there was a scare for Real when Bale crashed to the ground clutching his right ankle.
The Wales international continued after treatment, but he did not look comfortable as he attempted to run off the knock.
But a hobbling Bale mirrored Real’s fortunes as CSKA put the issue beyond doubt with a third goal 17 minutes from time.
Real’s defensive work had assumed comedy value, and the visitors did not require a second invitation to enjoy the last laugh.
Courtois was again powerless as Sigurdsson swept the ball home, putting the seal on an outstanding CSKA display.
Madrid, who had already clinched the top spot in Group G, were handed their worst-ever home defeat in Europe on a night in which manager Santiago Solari started the likes of Vinicius Junior, Javi Sanchez, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola, Marcos Llorente and Federico Valverde to face the Russians.
The visitors took a surprising 2-0 lead into half-time after Fedor Chalov and Georgi Schennikov took advantage of some shaky Los Blancos defending. CSKA then put the game out of reach in the 73rd minute through Arnor Sigurdsson who stroked home from the edge of the area
Here, we analyse the performance of their precocious young star Vinicius.
The youngest non-Spanish player ever to start a Champions League game for Real Madrid at just 18 years and 152 days old, the Brazilian was a delightful mix of chaos and calm.
The right-footed winger operated on Real’s left with opposite footed Marco Asensio deployed on the right.
Those two formed the fulcrum of Madrid’s attacking exploits, cutting inside onto their stronger side to spank shots at CSKA’s veteran stopper Igor Akinfeev.
Neither got on the scoresheet, however, Vinicius was deeply impressive, outshining not just Asensio but the entire Real team.
Indeed, while around him the weakened XI struggled, the teenager thrived, unloading his dazzling feet and dangerous delivery. He was the standout star in the clash, and that won’t be the last time you’ll hear that said about him.
Decision making – Yes, the twists, turns and trickery hallmark his display, but it was what the young Brazilian managed once he beat his man which caught the eye. Floated or driven low, his crosses into the box invited danger and had Karim Benzema been more alert on a couple of occasions Vinicius would have had an assist to his name. He didn’t just embrace this challenge, but thrived on it as well. His team-mates, however, did not.
Left-foot weakness – One area of concern is that against better and more experienced defenders, Vinicius could be look a little predictable. Now, that’s surprising to say considering his rapid feet make him so difficult to time for a tackle, yet his left foot is a massive contrast to what he can do with his right and he always looked to try and shift the ball onto his stronger side with every opportunity.
6th min CROSS: Immediate example of what he can produce with the ball at his feet. Delicious quick skill to beat right centre-back Kirill Nababkin and then his inviting low drive into the box is desperately cleared away.
17th min CROSS: Oh you’ll see this one all over social media. Sumptuous first touch sees him collect a long ball by twisting in the air and swivelling towards the byline. He storms into the box, cuts onto his favoured foot and lays the ball on a plate for Benzema who can’t find a finish.
23rd min SHOT: Brilliant first touch sees Vinicius drag the ball away from his marker after Isco played him through between the left channel. He burst forward into open space and again sharply cut onto his right foot to strike only for Akinfeev to smartly save low to his left.
55th min CROSS: Superb passage of play, this. He dazzles then destroys Nababkin again, races towards the edge of the box and crosses low for Isco who manufactures some room to shoot, only to disappointingly smack his effort wide.
Take Vinicius’ performance in isolation, away from the absolute calamity elsewhere on the pitch, and there is ample to be excited about. His confidence, coolness and cutting-edge ability was the absolute highlight of what was otherwise a dire display for Real.
All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com
Hola Madridistas. And welcome to Wednesday’s Real Madrid blog.
The Sport360 team will be here throughout the day, bringing you the latest Los Blancos news, views and gossip.
4:00 pm – Spurs eye move for Asensio
Real Madrid playmaker Marco Asensio is reportedly a target for Tottenham in the January transfer window.
The Daily Mirror says reports in Spain claim Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino wants the 22-year-old, but has had an initial approach rejected as Asensio is said to be keen to stay in his homeland.
Click here to read the story
1:00pm – Eight hours until kick off
10:00am – Perez praises Modric
The Bernabeu hosted a Christmas meal on Tuesday and Los Blancos president Florentino Perez gave an address where he praised Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric.
The Croat became the first man other than Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi to win the prestigious prize since Kaka in 2007.
And Perez was full of praise for Modric and placed him among the elites at Real Madrid.
8:00am – Solari refuses to react to Ronaldo’s remarks
Santiago Solari has described Real Madrid as having a “fantastic, humble squad” following remarks from Cristiano Ronaldo about his former employers.
Ronaldo, who switched from Real to Juventus in July, spoke about the clubs in an interview published by Gazzetta dello Sport on Monday, saying the Italian outfit felt “more like a family” than the Spanish one.
Read Solari’s full response to those comments here.