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Breakaway Transdniester's Sheriff Tiraspol Stuns Real Madrid

The match took place at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
The match took place at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Winners of Moldova league Sheriff Tiraspol pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Champions League history on September 28 by beating Real Madrid 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in the Spanish capital, with Sebastien Thill scoring a stunning 89th-minute winner.

Madrid fell behind to Jasurbek Yakhshiboev's header in the first half with Karim Benzema's penalty equalizer appearing to restore the pride of the Spanish giants, only for Thill to snatch an incredible victory.

The result will go down as one of the most surprising in the history of the competition and delivers a significant boost to Sheriff's chances of qualifying for the last 16.

Founded in 1997, Sheriff have since won 19 out of the last 21 Moldovan titles including the last six.

While Sheriff play in the Moldovan league, they are from the capital of Moldova's Moscow-backed separatist Transdniester region.

Mostly Russian-speaking Transdniester declared independence from then-Soviet Moldova in 1990 over fears the region would seek reunification with neighboring Romania.

Transdniester and Moldova fought a bloody war in 1992 that ended in a truce mediated and maintained by Russia and its troops which are still stationed in the region.

The territory is effectively run by the Sheriff conglomerate, a holding that controls businesses ranging from a cognac distillery to supermarkets, and a football club.

Sheriff now have six points out of a possible six in Group D, having already beaten Ukraine's champions Shakhtar Donetsk.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa