Champions League: Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin

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Real Madrid clinched a thrilling late triumph over Union Berlin in their opening Champions League Group C match at the Bernabeu, securing a hard-fought 1-0 victory.

Union Berlin effectively managed the first 45 minutes, frustrating Madrid’s efforts and limiting them to half-chances. In fact, the only on-target attempt from the home side was a weak Joselu header easily gathered by the goalkeeper, as Berlin continued to defy their hosts.

Madrid exhibited a notable improvement in the second half, fashioning numerous scoring opportunities but encountering strong resistance from Frederik Ronnow and Union Berlin’s resolute defense. Nonetheless, it was Jude Bellingham’s 94th-minute tap-in that sealed a last-gasp win for the Spanish side, earning them three crucial points in their inaugural European encounter of the season.

Ahead of the Bernabeu showdown, there was a prevailing expectation that Champions League newcomers Union Berlin would opt for a defensive strategy, a notion that largely held true.

The forward duo of Sheraldo Becker and Kevin Behrens showed early promise, with Behrens seeing his shot well-blocked by Antonio Rudiger. This early sign of intent served as a warning to Madrid, who themselves posed a significant attacking threat. Joselu missed two close-range headers within the opening five minutes.

If there were any nerves within the Union Berlin camp, they remained well-hidden during their composed first-half performance. While Madrid maintained control of possession and territory, Urs Fischer’s side limited them to long-range attempts and displayed glimpses of danger on the counter-attack.

Despite Jude Bellingham’s creative efforts, Madrid struggled to trouble Union Berlin in the first half, leaving Carlo Ancelotti with much to contemplate from the dugout.

However, Madrid emerged with renewed vigor in the second half. Rodrygo saw a tight-angle effort superbly denied by Frederik Ronnow, and moments later, the Brazilian’s acrobatic volley struck the post, with Joselu also testing the goalkeeper from close quarters.

Madrid’s control of the game grew stronger as they began to dominate the Union Berlin half with increasing frequency. Joselu had another opportunity to put the hosts in front, but Ronnow tipped his header onto the crossbar with thirty minutes remaining.

Efforts from Luka Modric, Antonio Rudiger, and Rodrygo came close to breaking the deadlock, and Madrid also lodged half-hearted penalty appeals for a handball by Danilho Doekhi. Nevertheless, it was Jude Bellingham, once again, who provided the late heroics that dashed Union Berlin’s aspirations.

Reacting swiftly to a deflected Federico Valverde strike, the midfielder calmly slotted the ball into an unguarded net, providing Madrid with a tremendous sense of relief in their challenging Champions League opener.

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