Footy Times

Real Madrid cruise past Braga to reach last 16

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MADRID, SPAIN: Real Madrid breezed past Sporting Braga 3-0 at Santiago Bernabeu to advance to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

Brahim Diaz, Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo scored for the Los Blancos to extend their winning streak to 9 matches. With an impeccable lead at the top of Group C, they had collected a perfect nine points from three games, leaving little doubt about their dominance in the competition this season.

Sporting Braga, sitting third in Group C, came into the match fully aware of the challenge ahead. With only three points from three matches, they aimed to salvage their European campaign by seeking an upset against the Spanish giants.

Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti approached the game with a relaxed strategy, resting key players including Jude Bellingham and offering playing time to rising stars like Brahim Diaz and Lucas Vazquez. 

Vazquez gave the hosts an early scare when he conceded a penalty inside five minutes after pulling Cristian Borja down in the area. However the Portuguese side could not seize the moment as Real keeper Andriy Lunin who replaced injured Kepa Arrizabalaga saved the weak shot of Alvaro Djalo.

At the other end, Diaz had a goal disallowed for a foul by Vinicius in the buildup. However, the Malagan talent quickly found another opportunity to score, as he gave the homeside a lead just before the half an hour mark. 

As Braga lacked the courage and strength to match the 14 times champions, the game was put to bed when Vinicius and Rodrygo scored two quick fire goals in the early second half to extend their consecutive Champions League knockout stages to 26.

The encounter at the iconic Santiago Bernabéu presented a serene backdrop, a contrast to the usual high-pressure matches, reflecting the stadium’s grandeur and the mutual respect among the teams. Despite its limited implications for the standings, the match was a celebration of the UEFA Champions League’s spirit, offering fans a display of football at its finest with an emphasis on the pure talent and fervour that the game embodies.

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