A brilliant young Brazilian stole the headlines at the Bernabeu – but it was Rodrygo not Vinicius Jr who fizzled in Real Madrid’s 6-0 thrashing of Galatasaray.
A Champions League hat-trick is not something many players can lay claim to, least of all an 18-year-old, making it five goals in six Los Blancos appearances.
Real have lurched from the resplendent to the ridiculous this season, but this display was rooted firmly in the former thanks to a roaring start, initiated by Rodrygo.
The teenage tyro signed from Santos wasted little time in making his mark, controlling a wayward Marcelo cross before drilling low past the despairing dive of Fernando Muslera. That was the fourth minute. In the seventh the Brazilian master and student paired up again, Rodrygo heading in a pinpoint cross from the left-back.
The points were sealed by the 14th minute when VAR awarded Los Blancos a penalty after Steven Nzonzi trod on Toni Kroos, fractionally, on the 18-yard line. Sergio Ramos stepped up and cheekily chipped in.
It was four by half-time as the energetic Rodrygo broke into the box and squared for Karim Benzema to easily sweep in. He had an even easier finish late in the day when he tapped in Dani Carvajal’s cross. Benzema then returned the earlier favour as he slipped in the boy from Brazil, who stepped closer to manhood by the final whistle.
Here is how we rated the Real players:
Thibaut Courtois 6: The first 17 minutes ensured he could have spent the entire game patrolling his penalty area chasing butterflies. A bystander apart from smart save with his feet from Lemina’s header.
Daniel Carvajal 6: Another who had an easy ride, though he bombed forward and reached Modric’s fine pass to serve up an easy second for Benzema.
Raphael Varane 6: An easy evening but did what he had to with aplomb, leading Los Blancos in clearances (5). Blocked Omer Bayram’s effort brilliantly.
Sergio Ramos 6: Love him or hate him, his penalty was showmanship of the highest order. Passing was perfect, although the sedate nature of the contest allowed for that.
Marcelo 7: Showed usual flair in attack, providing both assists for Rodrygo, though the first was a wayward cross the youngster did well to bring under control. Zero contribution in defence, though to be fair there was no need.
Casemiro 6: There was little requirement of his usual cut and thrust as Gala gave up harrying early, though his metronomic 95.7 pass accuracy led Real’s outfield players bar Ramos.
Toni Kroos 7: Lively from the off as his incisive runs and laser-beam passes opened the visitors up. Was too quick for Nzonzi to earn the penalty for third goal. Denied one himself by Muslera’s save.
Federico Valverde 5: Passed effectively with sting taken out of the game, but did little to stand out.
Rodrygo 9: What a dream home Champions League debut for the teenager, a terrific strike giving Real an early lead. He then rose to flick in Marcelo’s pinpoint cross and laid fourth on a plate for Benzema. Capped a dazzling display by poking in a third.
Karim Benzema 8: Quieter than he has been this season, at least in the first half, but still popped up with two tap-ins courtesy of Rodrygo’s hard work, and then Carvajal’s precise centre. Played in Rodrygo for hat-trick goal.
Eden Hazard 8: A bundle of energy Galatasaray tried – and failed – to contain, with persistent fouling something we were used to witnessing at Chelsea. Improving with every game, which will be a huge boost to a side so inconsistent.
Ferland Mendy 6: Determined to show attacking prowess as he was afforded 49 minutes. Looked lively down the left.
Luka Modric 6: Brought on to keep a tight leash on the Turkish side. Didn’t have to break sweat though his pass to Carvajal was sublime.
Isco 6: Nearly an instant impact as his glancing header was touched onto the bar by Muslera.
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