Rudiger rescues Real Madrid to secure spot in Champions League knockout stage after draw at Shakhtar Donetsk

Blood runs down the face of Real Madrid's Antonio Rudiger, centre, during the Champions League group F soccer match between Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid at Polish Army Stadium stadium in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)

Antonio Rudiger equalized in the fifth minute of injury time on Tuesday to rescue a 1-1 draw for Real Madrid at Shakhtar Donetsk and secure a spot for the defending champions in the Champions League knockout stage.

But the players' celebrations were cut short as Rudiger and Shakhtar goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin needed lengthy treatment for their clash of heads when the Madrid defender scored, after meeting Toni Kroos' cross from deep just ahead of Trubin.

Trubin was eventually able to continue for the final seconds, but Rudiger had to leave the field because he was bleeding so much.

"We really hope that it's no more than a bump," Madrid's Lucas Vazquez said.

It had looked like Oleksandr Zubkov's goal right after the break would be enough to deal Madrid its first loss of the season five days before it hosts Barcelona in the "Clasico" in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Zubkov capitalized on lax defending to power a header inside the right post, and his teammates produced a committed performance to stop Madrid from getting into its flow.

Shakhtar, which lost 2-1 in Madrid last week, dropped to third in Group F with the late draw.

Madrid is top on 10 points after four games played. It's four points ahead of Leipzig, which beat Celtic 2-0 away in the other group game, while Shakhtar is third with five points. Celtic has one point.

Madrid is assured of finishing at least among the top two as Shakhtar plays Leipzig in their last game.

Though Shakhtar from the east of Ukraine was the designated home team, it hosted the game in Warsaw, Poland due to the Russian invasion. Kickoff was preceded by a huge fan display of the Ukrainian flag's yellow and blue colors on one side of the stadium and the Polish red and white on the other.

Eden Hazard made his second start of the season for Madrid, just his fifth appearance altogether. Hazard impressed after coming on in the first game at Celtic and was rewarded with his first start against Mallorca on Sept. 11. The Belgian winger hadn't played since.

Karim Benzema and Rodrygo drew routine saves from Trubin in the first half, but otherwise there was little danger from the visitors.

Shakhtar captain Taras Stepanenko needed treatment after taking a blow to the head from Kroos' shot.

Stepanenko's team had no shots on target in the first 45 minutes and lacked the precision to trouble Madrid's Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Lunin.

That changed right after the break when Bogdan Mykhaylichenko raced forward and looped a cross for Zubkov to head inside the far post. Madrid defender Ferland Mendy wasn't close enough to Zubkov to put him off.

It was the second time in as many weeks that Zubkov scored against the defending champions.

Benzema went close in response as the Spanish champions began playing with more intensity.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti brought on Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior for the disappointing Hazard and Aurelien Tchouameni in the 57th, but instead it was Shakhtar that should have gone further ahead when Lassina Traore struck the crossbar.

Ancelotti made three more changes at once and Madrid's attacks became increasingly desperate. They paid off when Rudiger got to Kroos' cross to equalize.

By AFP 1 hr ago
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