Moldovan Champions Sheriff Tiraspol provided one of the great Champions League shocks by beating Real Madrid in the Bernebeu – but the matchwinner has previous with Rangers.
Sebastian Thill netted a stunning winner in the 89th minute as the lowly Moldovans upset the UEFA Super League chasing Real – coincidentally the Champions League’s most successful club – with a 2-1 victory in Spain.
This was after Sheriff had taken the lead in the first half through Jasurbek Yakhshiboev and Karim Benzema had equalised in the second half from the penalty spot.
It is a result which will live long in the memory and something which increases the Moldovan side’s Champions League earnings by £2.5m. This is how much each group stage win is worth.
Tiraspol’s is a fairy-tale story shrouded in mystery amid the club’s beginnings in the unrecognised state of Transnistria – a land-locked region which sits between Moldova and Ukraine but is recognised as the former.
The Sheriff Tiraspol journey is one which involves ex-KGB officers, lamenting the falling Soviet Union and accusations of dirty money – read this wonderful thread below for more information.
So let me put this into perspective a little bit. I don't think a lot of folks truly understand what it means that a team from Moldova has made it to the Champions' League.
I grew up a 15-minute drive from Tiraspol and I can give you a tiny bit of an idea… https://t.co/m1FKJEj167
— Slava Malamud 🇺🇦 (@SlavaMalamud) August 26, 2021
Thill shot for Sheriff (Tiraspol) but he also downed the Rangers once
Well, whilst Ibrox supporters might look on at Sheriff’s situation with wonder – this is their second group stage win having dumped Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 on opening day – Seb Thill is a name most Rangers fans have tried to forget.
Not only did the midfielder become the first Luxembourgian to score in the Champions League as he toppled Real Madrid, Thill, 27, is also the man who dumped Rangers out of the Europa League with Progres Niederkorn.
Rangers had taken a 1-0 lead to Luxembourg but were beaten 2-0 on the continent in what is widely regarded as the Gers’ worst ever European defeat.
Thill – who has a tattoo of him dreaming of the Champions League on his leg – netted what turned out to be the winner with 15 minutes to go back in 2017.
These are two of the biggest scalps in European footballing history and – even if Rangers were on the receiving end of one of them – it’s pretty amazing Thill has been the matchwinner in both.