Casemiro spares Madrid’s blushes against brilliant Brugge

MADRID (AFP) – Casemiro’s late header rescued Real Madrid from an embarrassing defeat at home against Club Brugge early yesterday as Zinedine Zidane’s side came from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw in the Champions League.

Madrid were run ragged in the first half by a brilliant Brugge and their speedy striker Emmanuel Dennis, who scored twice at the Santiago Bernabeu and should have completed his hat-trick shortly after the interval.

Instead, Madrid came storming back as Sergio Ramos headed in, before Casemiro claimed a dramatic equaliser in the 85th minute, seconds after Brugge’s Ruud Vormer had been sent off for a second yellow card.

“I would like to keep the second half and forget the first,” said Zidane afterwards.

“The goals we conceded were laughable.”

“The match was historic, the point was historic and the way we played was as well,” said Brugge coach Philippe Clement.

Real Madrid’s Casemiro scores his side’s second goal against Club Brugge at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. PHOTO: AP

After losing 3-0 to Paris Saint-Germain two weeks ago in what was Zidane’s worst ever loss as coach, Madrid will be relieved to have avoided another defeat that would have left them facing their first ever group-stage exit in this competition.

But there were no celebrations at the final whistle from those in white shirts after a chaotic performance checked any morale and momentum gained following three consecutive victories in La Liga.

“I am not worried about anything,” Zidane said. “We know we are in a worse situation in the Champions League but we keep going.”

“We have to do more, we have to do better,” added Ramos.

Madrid’s fans whistled the players off at half-time and Zidane made two changes, replacing Nacho, who was injured, with Marcelo and his goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who was ill, with Alphonse Areola, thrown on for an unforgiving debut.

Gareth Bale was left out of the squad completely, with Zidane claiming that both he and James Rodriguez were injured.