Two-goal hero Karim Benzema made Champions League history as Real Madrid took a step closer to the last-16 with a hard fought 2-1 victory over Shakhtar Donestk.
The Frenchman broke the deadlock to record Los Blancos' 1,000th goal in Europe's elite competition, the first team to reach that milestone, as Carlo Ancelotti's side raced into a 14th-minute lead, moments after Alan Patrick struck the post for Shakhtar.
The visitors would come again, and when Fernando was played through on goal, he ought to have scored but somehow contrived to scuff his effort wide.
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Real Madrid failed to heed the warning, however, and nine minutes before half-time, Alan Patrick chested a raking ball over the top into the path of Fernando, who rifled a powerful shot past the helpless Thibaut Courtois for his first-ever Champions League goal.
On another day, Fernando - Shakhtar's 99 - would have had a first-half hat-trick as he was played through behind the defence on the stroke of half-time only this time he was denied by Courtois.

Shakhtar Donetsk's Brazilian forward Fernando Dos Santos Pedro (L) celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League first round group D football match between Real Madrid CF and Shakhtar Donetsk at the Santiago Bernabeu stad

Image credit: Getty Images

Ancelotti's men tightened up their defence after the restart, and with their first moment of real quality in attack, Benzema completed a sweeping team move to restore their lead just past the hour-mark.
It was scarcely deserved but proved decisive as Real Madrid - who endured a couple of nervy moments at the death - climbed to the top of the pool, at least temporarily, with former leaders Sheriff Tiraspol and Inter Milan to meet later on Wednesday. Shakhtar remain bottom with just a point.

TALKING POINT - Benzema to below par Real's rescue

At Old Trafford, we have already seen this season how a premium striker like Cristiano Ronaldo can mask a club's problems.
Tonight, at Santiago Bernabeu, Benzema helped to paper over the cracks at Real Madrid with a ruthless display. A below par and passive team performance was not punished because of the Frenchman's eye for a goal.

Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League first round group D football match between Real Madrid CF and Shakhtar Donetsk at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on November 3, 2

Image credit: Getty Images

Defensively, Los Blancos were all over the place at times, and in midfield, Casemiro - on his 300th appearance for the club - and Toni Kross were occasionally overrun by their spirited opponents.
Ultimately, however, the Spanish giants have got away with it. They're now in pole position and will look forward to exacting revenge on the group's surprise packages Sheriff on November 24 when they could possibly seal their place in the latter stages of the competition. Job done, but immediate improvement required.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Mykhaylo Mudryk (Shakhtar)

A number of visiting players put themselves in the shop window tonight, but none more so than Mudryk whose direct running and pace down the left flank was a joy to watch.

PLAYER RATINGS

Real Madrid: Courtois 7, Carvajal 6, Eder Militao 6, Alaba 6, Mendy 6, Kroos 5, Casemiro 6, Modric 7, Lucas Vazquez 7, Vinicius Jr 6, Benzema 8.. subs: Soloman 5, Antonio N/A, Marlos N/A, Sudakov N/A Dentinho N/A
Shakhtar Donestk: Trubin 6, Ismaily 6, Matviyenko 6, Marlon 6, Dodo 6, Stepanenko 6, Alan Patrick 7, Maycon 6, Mudryk 8*, Tete 6, Fernando 7.. subs: Nacho 5, Jovic N/A

KEY MOMENTS

5' - Great save! Sensational football from Real Madrid! Modric, having played a beautiful one-two with Vasquez, is through on goal, you're waiting for the net to bulge but Trubin keeps it out with a strong one-handed save!
11' - Shakhtar hit the post! Alan Patrick unloads with a low shot that looks destined for the corner, Courtois lookes beaten but is saved by the woodwork! Real Madrid hit the visitors on the counter-attack now, with Vinicius leading the charge. But smart defending from Matviyenko sees him get between man and ball.
14' - GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Shakhtar (Karim Benzema): Goal number 1,000 for Real Madrid in Europe's elite competition, and it had to be Benzema, didn't it? But it's a real gift from the visitors. Trying to play out from the back, Vinicius applies the press on Marlon and steals the ball, squares it to Benzema, leaving the Frenchman with a simple tap-in! And it's very fitting that Benzema is Real's history maker.
32' - So close! Shakhtar play through the lines to carve open Real Madrid's defence and find Fernando, who looks odds on to score but scuffs his effort wide!
39' - GOAL! Real Madrid 1-1 Shakhtar (Fernando): That has been coming! Having been picked out by a raking ball over the top, Alan Patrick chests the ball into the path of Fernando and he rifles past the helpless Courtois!
61' - GOAL! Real Madrid 2-1 Shakhtar (Karim Benzema): That's more like it from Los Blancos! A moment of quality in attack restores their lead! Vinicius, having played a glorious one-two with Casemiro, then sets up Benzema on a plate and the Frenchman finishes with aplomb.

KEY STATS

  • Real Madrid are the first team in European Cup/ChampionsLeague history to reach 1,000 goals scored in the competition (including qualifiers).
  • Karim Benzema is the oldest Real Madrid player (33y 319d) to score more than once in a European Cup/Champions League game since Ferenc Puskás against Feyenoord in September 1965 (38y 173d), who scored four times.
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