A slow start condemned Real Madrid to a 2-2 draw with Club Brugge in Champions League Group A action on Tuesday night at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
The visitors from Belgium struck for a pair of first-half goals through Emmanuel Dennis and owned a two-goal advantage at half-time that had alarm bells ringing in the Spanish capital. Sergio Ramos scored to cut the deficit to one before a late Casemiro goal salvaged the draw for Los Blancos.
Still, it is a result that will further complicate Madrid’s path to next spring’s knockout stage, with just one point from their opening two matches.
With neither Gareth Bale nor James Rodriguez named in Zinedine Zidane’s matchday squad, Lucas Vazquez, Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema were charged with leading the Madrid attack, while Luka Modric made his first start since his injury.
Much like their last Champions League outing in front of the home fans last spring against Ajax, Madrid were caught by surprise early as Brugge took an early lead.
Percy Tau received a pass in space and played across to Dennis, who slotted in past non-reacting Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Initially it looked like both players received their respective passes in an offside position, but VAR indicated otherwise and Brugge’s 0-1 lead stood.
Madrid looked to respond and were on the verge of equalising through a Raphael Varane header, only for Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to make a miraculous reaction save with his right hand.
Yet the next goal would once again come from the visitors, as a horrific giveaway from Modric gift-wrapped a chance to Dennis, who stumbled while charging toward goal but still finished past Courtois to further stun the home fans and hand Brugge a 0-2 lead.
Eyebrows were certainly raised as the two sides came out for the second half, with Courtois substituted for backup Alphonse Areola, while Nacho Fernandez had to give up his spot to Marcelo.
Madrid increased the intensity and pressure but still had to be wary of a Brugge counterattack off a Sergio Ramos error and Areola was called on to deny a Tau chance.
VAR came to the forefront for a second time in the match, this time on a goal scored by Madrid in which Ramos headed in a pass from Benzema. Video replays showed that the Madrid centre-back was indeed onside and the goal stood, cutting the deficit to 1-2.
Still needing a goal to pull level, Zidane turned to Vinicius Junior off the bench to replace Lucas Vazquez, but the Brugge defence was remaining compact and keeping Madrid at bay.
The final 10 minutes were always going to be the most difficult for Brugge, though, and their job grew even more complicated when Ruud Vormer was sent off with a second yellow card for a foul on Vinicius.
It was on the resulting free kick that Madrid got the equaliser, with Kroos serving up the ball and Casemiro rising up to spin in a header to level the score at 2-2.
There was still time left for a winner and Zidane’s men came with everything to try to get it, but Brugge would hold on to secure the precious point, leaving Madrid with a lot of work to do in the group.
2.- Real Madrid: Courtois (Areola, min. 46), Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Nacho (Marcelo, min. 46); Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Lucas Vazquez (Vinicius, min. 67), Hazard, Benzema.
2.- Club Brugge: Mignolet; Mata, Mechele, Deli, Ricca; Rits, Vormer, Vanaken; Diatta, Tau (Schrivjers, min. 92), Dennis (Openda, min. 71).
Goals: 0-1, min. 9: Dennis; 0-2, min. 39: Dennis; 1-2, min. 55: Ramos; 2-2, min. 85: Casemiro.
Referee: Georgi Kabakov (Bulgaria).
Yellow Cards: Mignolet (Min. 69) for Club Brugge, Openda (Min. 77) for Club Brugge, Vormer (Min. 78) for Club Brugge, Vormer (Min. 83) for Club Brugge, Hazard (Min. 92) for Real Madrid.
Red cards: Vormer (Min. 83) for Club Brugge.
Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu.
More Information; marca.com/en