Real Madrid beat Braga 3-0 in the Champions League

Real Madrid secured safe passage to the Champions League Round of 16 after beating Braga 3-0 at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.

The Warriors were awarded an early penalty but couldn’t take advantage with Álvaro Djaló’s spot kick saved.

They paid the price in the 27th minute when Los Blancos took the lead, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo combining to present a chance for Brahim Díaz which he took with aplomb.

Braga were second best after the restart and paid the price, Vinícius Júnior scoring in the 58th minute and Rodrygo netting three minutes later to end the contest.

The result leaves the Portuguese club four points behind Napoli and two points above Union Berlin with two games to play in Group C.

Early penalty saved

Braga couldn’t have asked for a better start in Spain where they were awarded a penalty in the fourth minute. Lucas Vázquez was bamboozled by Christian Borja and Bruma, the right-back then experiencing a brain explosion as he hauled down Borja.

Referee Halil Meler had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, the home crowd going ballistic in an attempt to disrupt Álvaro Djaló. It appeared to work, the magnitude of the occasion overwhelming the Madrid born winger who hit a weak spot kick straight at Andriy Lunin who made a comfortable save.

Sikou Niakaté gave the ball away in a dangerous position with Brahim Díaz eventually putting the ball in the net, Niakaté breathing a sigh of relief with an earlier foul ruling the goal out.

Braga continued to take it to their illustrious opponents, Bruma capitalizing on an error from Vázquez and beating Rudiger but not able to get past Lunin. Federico Valverde then blazed over the bar at the other end with the game opening up.

Los Blancos turn on the style

Vinícius Júnior cut inside and saw his shot deflected wide before the hosts opened the scoring in the 27th minute. Ferland Mendy released Rodrygo, the Brazilian teeing up Diaz who fired into the roof of the net.

Real Madrid started the second half strong with Nacho, Diaz and Rodrygo testing Matheus. The pressure paid off in the 58th minute when they doubled their lead, Lucas Vázquez finding Vinícius Júnior free in the box, the striker sliding the ball past Matheus and into the net.

Three minutes later the contest was over after a brilliant piece of play between the hosts’ Brazilian duo. Rodrygo gave the ball to Vinícius who returned the favour, Rodrygo producing a classy finish over Matheus.

Game over

Artur Jorge brought on Joe Mendes, Al Musrati and Abel Ruiz for Víctor Gómez, Rodrigo Zalazar and Ricardo Horta, but it was far too late.

Real Madrid were simply toying with the Warriors who were unable to deal with the intricate passing and movement coming their way. Rodrygo fired into the side netting with Valverde missing the target and seeing another effort blocked.

Carlo Ancelotti gave 19-year-old Nicolás Paz his first appearance for the senior side as Los Blancos cruised to the finish line.

Braga went close to scoring a consolation goal in added time when Borja’s cross found Abel Ruiz, his header producing a sharp save from Lunin who kept the clean sheet intact.

Inevitable outcome

Braga had a fantastic chance to take the lead with Álvaro Djaló unable to capitalise from the spot. From that moment on there was an inevitability about the outcome.

Real Madrid took some time to settle, but once they took the lead their confidence grew and there was only going to be one winner. They were ruthless after the break with Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior leading the way up front.

Artur Jorge tried to take it to the Spanish giants, Vitor Carvalho dropping into a back three without the ball and Ricardo Horta playing in a false nine position. It could have been a different story had Djaló held his nerve.

Whatever Jorge said at half-time had no effect however, the game well and truly decided in the 61st minute when Real Madrid netted their third goal.

There is no shame in losing against the eight-time Champions League winners at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Braga's attention now turning to a trip to Arouca in the Primeira Liga.

By Matthew Marshall