Kroos puts Real back on track with vital win at Galatasaray
Champions League Group A - Türk Telekom Stadyumu – Galatasaray 0 Real Madrid 1 (Kroos 18’)
Toni Kroos’ first-half goal was enough to hand Real Madrid their first Champions League win of the season at Galatasaray.
After picking up one point from their opening two games in Europe, and losing in the league at Mallorca on the weekend, the win lifts the pressure on Real head coach Zinedine Zidane.
Kroos opened the scoring in the first half in his 100th Champions League appearance, and that was enough to hand Real all three points. He applied the finishing touch after an Eden Hazard cutback inadvertently crossed his path.
Toni Kroos, Marcelo and Hazard (Galtasaray-Real Madrid)Getty Images
Before that, Florin Andone had produced two good saves from Thibaut Courtois and Younes Belanda wasted a great opening for the hosts later in the first period.
Hazard came the closest to adding a second for Madrid, rounding goalkeeper Fernando Muslera but then smashing the ball against the crossbar, while the Galatasaray shot-stopper was called into action several times by Benzema.
For now, the pressure eases on Zidane. Madrid had picked up just one point from their first two Champions League games and were coming off a shock domestic defeat, so the knives would’ve been out for Zidane had his team not recorded a positive result tonight. He made a statement with his team selection, handing 18-year-old Rodrygo a full debut as several established and underperforming alternatives watched from the bench, and the youngster repaid his faith with a lively display. He, Hazard and Benzema were too good for the hosts and Madrid dominated for large stretches, putting in a performance befitting of 13-time champions and should have won be more. This was a good night for Zidane.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid). He led the line excellently, regularly dragging defenders out of position and linking up well with Hazard, Rodrygo and Kroos. The only thing that was missing was a goal - and that wasn’t for lack of trying.
11’ - SAVED! The hosts win a free-kick and Seri takes it smartly, feeding in a low ball that Andone meets on the bounce, caressing it towards goal, but Courtois makes another splendid save to deny him.
18’ - GOAL! Galatasaray 0-1 Real Madrid (Kroos). Hazard and Benzema playa a nice one-two and the former is presented with a great chance. He instead chooses to pass to Benzema and gets fortunate as his misplaced ball runs to Kroos, who dutifully sidefoots home.
38’ - SAVED! Babel skips past a naive Valverde, charges down the left and then cuts the ball back for an unmarked Belhanda, just behind the penalty spot. It's a great chance, yet he can only provide a tame effort , allowing Courtois to save.
40’ - CLOSE! Valverde finds Benzema with a first-time ball, stretching the defence. Benzema decides to take the shot on early and flashes an effort just inches over the bar. Muslera didn't move.
53’ - SAVED! Real Madrid break with lightening speed and Kroos, receiving the ball from Rodrygo, plays through Benzema. He doesn't quite have the pace to hold off Luyindama, who jostles with him as he enters the box, and Benzema can only shoot in the general vicinity of the goalkeeper due to the pressure.
65’- WHAT A MISS! Benzema sees Hazard's run and puts him one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Hazard takes it round Muslera but then, with the goal gaping, blasting the ball against the crossbar.
- Kroos is the fifth German to reach 100 Champions League games.
- Galatasaray have only three home losses in 2019. In then league, they are 40 games unbeaten at home.
- Madrid have now won five of their seven meetings with Galatasaray.
- It’s Real's fifth clean sheet in eight matches.