September 29 – Sheriff Tiraspol, from an unheralded Moldovan outpost close to the border with Ukraine, are celebrating one of the most stunning upsets in the history of the Champions League after winning 2-1 at the home of Real Madrid, the competition’s 13-time champions.
An unstoppable 89th-minute winner from Sebastien Thill, a Luxembourg international, left Real fans in disbelief after their team had no few than 31 attempts on goal.
Sheriff, a self-proclaimed independent nation from the unrecognised breakaway state of Transnistria that isn’t recognized by a single United Nations member state, are now the unlikely leaders of Champions League Group D having won both their opening games including a 2-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
“For us this is a dream come true to have won here,” said Sheriff captain Frank Castañeda.
“We’re so happy, and just enjoying it. We have full faith in what we’ve been doing and things are going well for us. We didn’t just come here to sit around, we know how good our players are and luckily for us Madrid weren’t able to take their chances and we took ours.”
By contrast Real’s experienced coach Carlo Ancelotti was left shellshocked.
“You could say we had bad luck, we lost the game on the small details, sometimes luck deserts you in games,” said Ancelotti. “Everything went well for them, everything went wrong for us.”
To put the result into further context, Sheriff came through four rounds of qualifying to become the first Moldovan team to play in the group phase of Europe’s elite club competition.
Sheriff goalkeeper Giorgos Athanasiadis was named the player of the match after thwarting Real’s superstar players. It was only the second time Real were beaten in any last-32 group-stage game at the Bernabeu.
“It’s the best and most important goal of my career, that’s for sure,” said Thill, who was last year playing on loan at FC Tambov – a Russian club which in May was dissolved after declaring themselves bankrupt.
“After this match, we all went crazy. There are a lot of foreigners in the club, we come from all types of countries. It’s our strength.”
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com