Spanish giants Real Madrid suffered an unexpected defeat at the hands of Sheriff Tiraspol credit to a late wonder strike.
Sheriff was founded in 1997 and made up of an eclectic group of players. They managed to clinch a big 2-1 win thanks to Sebastien Thill’s last-minute stunner.
Madrid shell-shocked by Sheriff
Competition debutants Sheriff took the lead in the 25th minute with a header from Uzbek midfielder Jasurbek Yakhshiboev. Later, he narrowly missed a chance to double the visitors’ lead in the first half.
Karim Benzema equalized for Real Madrid from the penalty spot just after the hour mark.
Sheriff Tiraspol goalkeeper Giorgos Athanasiadis played the game of his life. The Greek came up with at least 10 saves as Madrid were unsuccessful in putting the ball past him from open play.
The minutes ticked on and the match was heading for a draw. A stalemate itself would have been a historic result.
However, in the dying embers, Sebastien Thill produced a stunning half-volley from outside the area to send shockwaves through Europe.
“We believed we could win. I spoke to my teammates as captain, motivating them, saying ‘why not dream?’ This is football,” Sheriff captain Frank Castaneda said. “Real Madrid are historic but on the pitch it’s 11 vs. 11. We went for the win and got it.”
Goalkeeper Georgios Athanasiadis, 28, was named UEFA’s Man of the Match for a breath-taking display.
“I’m really happy,” Athanasiadis said. “It’s very difficult to play against these teams, the best in the world. I’m emotional, if I carry on talking much longer, I’ll end up crying.”
The Moldovan outfit closed with +2700 odds at Caesars Sportsbook. This was the largest underdog to win in the last three Champions League seasons. The previous biggest upset was Shakhtar Donetsk beating Madrid (group stage) last year at +1300 odds.
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