It was hardly the most aesthetically pleasing of braces, but Emmanuel Dennis’ exploits in 10-man Club Brugge’s outstanding 2-2 Champions League draw at 13-time winners Real Madrid made him the only pick for Tuesday’s Carolina Herrera hero of the day.
The first of the 21-year-old’s bizarre double, via the video-assistant referee, saw him miscontrol a Percy Tau cross past the befuddled goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. For the second, the Nigerian forward stumbled when clean through and chipped the Belgium No1 despite nearly losing his footing.
A second-half fightback from the hosts would then earn a share of the spoils.
Los Blancos were expected to issue a firm retort to last month’s opening Group A-humiliation at Paris Saint-Germain.
Their nightmare start, however, extended into the first half at Santiago Bernabeu. Dennis and Tau ripped them to shreds – earning good fortune.
Madrid – whistled off at the break – required some inspiration and skipper Sergio Ramos, via VAR, headed in on 55 minutes to make it 2-1. Brazil defensive midfielder Casemiro then nodded in on 85 minutes, shortly after Ruud Vormer’s second yellow, to make it 2-2, but Real could not complete the job and remain winless after two games.
On target: 3
Pass accuracy: 57.1 per cent
Dennis smelled blood – and went straight in for the kill.
Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane’s decision to utilise a – suicidal – high defensive line played perfectly into Dennis’ hands. The 21-year-old boasts an unforgiving pace that left Ramos for dust, plus even unsettled France centre-back Raphael Varane.
He was, indeed, almost too quick for his own feet on the way to getting the second.
The second-half shimmy to confuse the retreating Varane almost led to a hat-trick, only for substitute goalkeeper Alphonse Areola’s face to deny him a spot in history.
This was a performance to make Europe’s scouts take notice.
Dennis, to pardon the pun, was an utter menace to ramshackle Madrid. The key now is to offer a consistent attacking threat, moving forwards.
Brugge have switched to a 3-5-2 formation in recent weeks and this could boost Dennis’ goalscoring column. If he does, Brugge may be happy to cash in on another leading talent in the summer.
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