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Sheriff Tiraspol Gives Real Madrid a Champions League Battle at the Bernabéu

Sports Illustrated logo Sports Illustrated 9/28/2021 Andrew Gastelum
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Jasurbek Yakhshiboev scored Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol's first Champions League group stage away goal against Real Madrid at the Bernabéu.

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There was a new sheriff in Madrid, and his name is Jasurbek Yakhshiboev—well, at least for 40 minutes of Sheriff Tiraspol's Champions League match against Real Madrid. 

In the 25th minute, Yakhshiboev was on top of the world after scoring a goal at the historic Estadio Santiago Bernabéu to give the small Moldovan club the lead on Tuesday. 

Running down the right wing unmarked during a counterattack, the 24-year-old Uzbekistan international connected with a cross from Sheriff left back Cristiano. Yakhshiboev, on loan from Polish side Legia Warsaw, headed the ball back across goal to beat Thibaut Courtois for the opening goal. 

He then ran off in celebration, holding his head in disbelief at the accomplishment.

But Real Madrid pulled one back when Vinicius's fancy footwork in the box proved to be too much for Sheriff, as the Brazilian drew a penalty in the 65th minute. Karim Benzema then stepped to the spot and converted to move into fourth place all time on the Champions League goalscoring list with his 72nd career goal in the competition.  

Benzema also became the first player in the competition's history to score in 17 straight Champions League seasons.

Sheriff has won the Moldovan title in 19 of the past 21 seasons, but became the first Moldovan side to ever qualify for Champions League when it defeated Dinamo Zagreb in a two-leg playoff last month. The side won its first Champions League group stage game against Shakhtar Donetsk on Sept. 15.  

Sheriff's rise through all four qualifying rounds to advance to the group stage is a stark contrast to Real Madrid's 13 Champions League titles. Real won its opening Champions League game against Inter Milan earlier this month. 

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