Tuesday, May 28, 2024
HomesportReal Madrid beat Braga 3-0 to clinch Champions League last-16 place

Real Madrid beat Braga 3-0 to clinch Champions League last-16 place

MADRID :Brahim Diaz, Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo scored as Real Madrid cruised into the last 16 of the Champions League with two group games remaining after a 3-0 victory over Portuguese side Braga on Wednesday.

Real manager Carlo Ancelotti rested several regular starters, including top scorer Jude Bellingham with a shoulder injury, but the 14-times champions maintained their 100 per cent record to lead Group C with 12 points from four games.

They could secure top spot with a point at home in their next game against Napoli.

The Italian champions are second on seven points, four clear of Braga in third. Union Berlin are bottom on one point after a 1-1 draw against Napoli earlier on Wednesday.

Real got an early scare when Lucas Vazquez held Braga defender Cristian Borja inside the box to concede a penalty in the fourth minute.

However, goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, who was a last-minute addition to Real’s starting eleven due to an injury suffered by Kepa Arrizabalaga in the warm-up, palmed away a weak effort by Alvaro Djalo from the spot.

Vazquez went in hard on a challenge on winger Bruma inside the box in the 20th minute that could have cost Real another penalty and a second yellow card if the referee decided that it was an infringement, as Braga players complained heavily.

However, he was let off and Real then took control of the game. Diaz, who had an earlier goal ruled out for a foul in the build-up, opened the scoring with a first-time strike from close range in the 27th minute, assisted by Rodrygo with a low cross.

Diaz could have extended their lead in the 55th minute, but goalkeeper Matheus made two consecutive reflex saves to deny the Spanish midfielder’s double-effort from close-range.

Matheus also stopped a Rodrygo strike from the edge of the box to help Braga stay in the game, but Vinicius Jr doubled the lead in the 58th minute when he collected a low cross by Vazquez to strike home a tidy finish from inside the box.

Three minutes later, Vinicius started a counter-attack and played in his compatriot Rodrygo, who netted a brilliant chip over the goalkeeper to secure the result.

“The truth is that I am delighted. It was a perfect game, three goals, we didn’t concede… I’m happy for the goal, the assist and, of course, for the win and the qualification, which was the most important thing,” man-of-the-match Rodrygo told Movistar Plus.

“We have a lot of quality in our squad that is so deep. If we have a good day, it’s difficult to prevent us from scoring. Today went very well and we hope it continues like this for the next games.”

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