Home Champions League Real maintains a perfect record in the Champions League.

Real maintains a perfect record in the Champions League.

by Tim Vickery
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With a convincing 3-0 victory over Braga in the fourth matchday, Carlo Ancelotti’s team secured their place in the next round, topping Group C with a perfect 12 points.

Jude Bellingham was sidelined due to a shoulder injury, leading Ancelotti to field Brahim Diaz as his replacement in the midfield. Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was initially set to start but suffered an injury during the warm-up, forcing him to make way for Andriy Lunin.

In an unexpected turn of events, Real benefited from the depleted lineup. In the 6th minute, after Lucas Vazquez fouled Cristian Borja inside the penalty area, Braga was awarded a penalty. Lunin correctly guessed the direction of Alvaro Djalo’s shot to the left and made a crucial save.

Rodrygo extended Real’s lead to 3-0.

Following Federico Valverde’s ball recovery in the opponent’s half, Brahim Diaz slotted the ball into Braga’s net shortly thereafter. Although this goal was initially disallowed due to a Vinicius Junior foul, it set the stage for the Spanish player to open the scoring in the 27th minute. Ferland Mendy delivered a cross, and Diaz was in the right place to slot the ball into the visiting team’s net.

Real could have left the first half with a larger lead if Braga’s goalkeeper, Matheus Magalhaes, hadn’t denied Rodrygo’s narrow-angle shot. At the start of the second half, after a pass from Vinicius, Diaz missed an opportunity to score a brace as his close-range shot couldn’t beat Magalhaes.

The second goal for the home team was only a matter of time. Real continued to attack down the wings, this time on the right side. Vazquez combined with Valverde and delivered a cross for Vinicius to finish inside the penalty area, doubling the lead.

Real needed just three minutes to score their third goal. Braga’s high defensive line presented a golden opportunity for the Brazilian duo of Vinicius and Rodrygo to exploit their speed. In a counter-attack, the two players combined tore apart Braga’s defense, and Rodrygo chipped the ball over Magalhaes’s head.

In the 64th minute, Rodrygo had a chance to score a brace, but his left-footed shot grazed the outside of the post. The final minutes saw Braga’s attacking efforts, but they couldn’t find the back of the net. In the third minute of stoppage time, Lunin threw himself to block Abel Ruiz’s header, ending the opponent’s hopes of scoring.

For the first time since 2015, Real has won all four group stage matches, accumulating 12 points and securing the top spot in Group C. They have a lead of over five points compared to second-placed Napoli. If they secure points against the Italian club in the next round, Ancelotti’s team will clinch the top spot. Having won one match against Union Berlin in the first leg, Braga has a good chance to compete for a place in the Europa League.

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