Sheriff Tiraspol produced one of the great Champions League shocks as the competition’s least experienced club upstaged 13-time European champions Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
Sebastien Thill snatched victory for the debutants with a stunning final-minute strike, sparking scenes of wild celebration from the Moldovan champions.
Jasurbek Yakhshiboev’s first-half header had given them the lead before Karim Benzema levelled with a penalty.
But Thill’s goal was a worthy way to clinch a historic victory – the Luxembourg midfielder’s half-volley reducing the home crowd to silence as it flashed past Thibaut Courtois.
“It’s the best and most important goal of my career, that’s for sure,” said Thill, who was last year playing on loan at FC Tambov – a Russian club which in May was dissolved after declaring themselves bankrupt.
“The side were so brave with how we played and luckily enough I was able to score a bit of a stunner.
“After this match, we all went crazy. There are a lot of foreigners in the club, we come from all types of countries. It’s our strength.”
This was not what Real had planned as the Bernabeu hosted Champions League football for the first time in 580 days, and shouts of celebration from Sheriff players were the soundtrack to a monumental upset.
Sheriff captain Frank Castaneda said victory was a “dream come true” and that they are focused on reaching the knockout stage.
“We are dreaming of getting into the last 16 and that’s our objective,” he said.
The home side dominated every facet of the game, having 76% possession and 31 shots – 11 of which were on target.
But Sheriff played with supreme composure and were ruthless when presented with even a hint of a chance – scoring twice from just three shots on goal.
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti said he was “a little sad” as he felt Real “deserved to win”.
“You could say we had bad luck, we lost the game on the small details, they scored their goals on the counter-attack and from a throw-in,” the Italian said. “We had a lot of shots at goal but sometimes luck deserts you in games.
“Everything went well for them; everything went wrong for us.”
⏰ RESULTS ⏰
🤯 Sheriff stun Madrid, Messi inspires Paris, Liverpool win in style…
🤔 Performance of the night?#UCL
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 28, 2021