Of sweat, mud and blood! Real Madrid's 'warrior' Rudiger wins hearts after heroics against Shakhtar Donetsk
Defender Antonio Rudiger, who joined Real Madrid from Chelsea this summer, suffered a nasty facial injury while scoring Los Blancos' last-gasp equaliser against Shakhtar Donetsk in their Champions League clash at Warsaw on Tuesday.
Passion, emotion and grit run in the game of football. Tuesday's Champions League clash between Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk proved just that. The 1-1 draw between the reigning champions and the Ukrainian club in Warsaw also witnessed the Los Blancos' defender Antonio Rudiger emerge as an absolute warrior, especially during the closing stages of the high-octane game.
Shakhtar Donetsk's Oleksandr Zubkov scored in the 46th minute of the clash, leaving Real Madrid fans in utter shock. However, in the 96th minute of the game, German defender Antonio Rudiger scored a last-gasp equaliser, but at a cost.
The former Chelsea star suffered a nasty cut on his forehead after colliding with goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin. As a result, Rudiger was covered in blood and reportedly needed 20 stitches to close the wound. The German international will undergo tests on Wednesday after the team returns to Madrid from Poland to determine if the 29-year-old will be available for the El Clasico against Barcelona over the weekend.
Rudiger's goal wrapped up Real Madrid's qualification from the group stages, and he was easily one of the top performers for Carlo Ancelotti's team in an otherwise lacklustre show against Shakhtar Donetsk. Having him available for the first El Clasico of the season will be vital for the Real Madrid boss. The Italian tactician was pretty relaxed about the German's head injury, stating that he was doing okay after the game.
"Rudiger has a cut on his forehead. Emotionally the player is fine. He is aware, he speaks, he smiles… he is happy because he has scored an important goal," Ancelotti said in his post-match press conference.
Meanwhile, Rudiger took to Instagram to send a message to his fans and well-wishers. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger 👊🏾 I am okay - thanks for all your messages 🤞🏾🙏🏾 #Hustle #AlwaysBelieve," wrote the German defender.
The post has drawn a massive reaction from Rudiger's current teammates, Chelsea stars and other personalities from the football world. Real Madrid stars Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior were among those who showed their support for the German international. "Come on my bro," wrote the Brazilian winger. Toni Kroos, who's sublime pass helped Rudiger head the equaliser, too wrote "De (lion)".
Meanwhile, Rudiger's former Chelsea teammates Reece James and Hakim Ziyech showered their love for the defender. "Strong like iron," wrote the English defender. "Strong like wood," noted Ross Barkley, among other comments that lauded the 'warrior'.
Here's a look at what some Real Madrid fans had to say about Rudiger on Twitter: